The following interview and article was written and presented for College Sport Wellington in early April 2023.
Two golds and a silver by a whisker in the space of a few hours represented a satisfying day out for St Pat’s Town’s Ryan Mallon at this past weekend’s North Island Secondary School Track and Field Championships in Palmerston North.
Ryan, St Pat’s Town’s recent 100th McEvedy Shield event captain and a deputy head prefect, won both the Senior Boys Long Jump and Triple Jump titles and was second in the 110m Hurdles on Saturday.
Winning the triple jump was particularly pleasing , given he had a clash of events and had to head over to compete in the hurdles midway through the triple jump competition.
“The scheduled clash meant that I would only be able to do about four of six jumps before running off to the start of the hurdles and competing in that and then come straight back to triple and do my final jumps,” said Ryan “It was pretty chaotic!”
He was just pipped at the tape in the 110m hurdles, which was a straight final. “I just scraped a second by 0.01s in a photo finish, that dip across the line really helped me.” The 15.27s he ran was a personal best.
As it transpired, he was still in the lead in his other live event but wasn’t assured of winning. “It was on my last jump that I pulled out a 13.34m.” The second placed finisher’s best was 12.54m, so an 80cm win for Ryan.
Ryan’s triple jump personal best is 13.59m, which he achieved in winning bronze at last December’s NZSS Track and Field Championships in Taranaki. This was achieved on his final jump. “In the final round I was pushed into fourth and I had to pull out a PB jump to re-take bronze. It was by far one of the most nerve-wracking but clutch moments of my life.”
The Senior Boys Long Jump on Saturday was at the start of the schedule, so Ryan could stay focused throughout on that event.
“My winning jump was midway through the competition. It took me a while to get into the groove but I was fairly confident knowing that I could take my time.”
He also had his training partner and St Pat’s Town teammate Riley Jarvis competing alongside him in the long jump. “We have been training together for so many years and we were kind of going in as a duo to support each other and hopefully take a place.” Riley finished seventh on the day.
Ryan later joined Riley in the Wellington 4 x 100m relay team, alongside St Bernard’s College’s Ben Maluschnig and Crimson School’s Josh Lotsu, and the team finished second.
Ryan now takes a well-deserved break from athletics, with the next major meet to look forward to being the 50th NZSS Track & Field Championships are being held in Christchurch in December. In the meantime, he hopes to play on the wing or at fullback in the St Pat’s First XV rugby team.
He also reflected on some other memorable meets this summer, including winning the U18 title at last month’s New Zealand Track & Field Championships. “That was huge for me, when I first started athletics I never thought I would become a national champion.” He was also second in the triple jump at that meet.
“Being my school’s athletics captain at this year’s 100th McEvedy Shield was a big highlight; I have been in the team since year 9 so that was my fifth and last McEvedy.”
He won three McEvedy events this year, backing up the four he won in 2022 and breaking a record held since 1994 (12.95m) in the U16 Triple Jump with a new mark of 13.35m.
He also set his long jump PB of 6.77m this summer.
Mallon is always thankful for the support of his family, some of whom are based in Palmerston North.
“I always have strong support from my family and my dad always tells me go to these competitions and compete against yourself and don’t focus on what anyone else is doing and be proud of what you can do and how you perform.”
Another huge reason for his success is the input and support of his coach Leigh Lidstone, also a P.E. teacher at St Pat’s Town.
“He was my older brother Josh’s coach. That helped spark my interest in athletics. In year 8 when the school had pre-season trainings I would attend those and ever since then Mr Lidstone’s been my coach and he is dedicated and awesome.”
Josh was a senior in Town’s McEvedy team in 2018 in his final year, and Ryan started at St Pat’s Town in 2019.
There were several other St Pat’s Town athletes at the NISS Championships this weekend, including Nelson Tiumalu who won gold in the IB Discus.
Other gold medallists from Wellington were Faith Sola in the JG Discus, Connor Sharkey in the JB Hammer, Wiremu Reriti in the JB High Jump, Samisoni Hewitt in the SB High Jump, Keegan Sharkey in the IB Javelin and Harrison Stratford in the Junior Boys Para 200m.
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