In the junior triple jump final at the National Secondary Schools Track and Field Championships last December the vibe was so relaxed each of the competitors were joking they would significantly improve their personal bests by a considerable distance. The joke soon became a reality and turned the contest serious.
“My personal best before Nationals was 12.70m. I jumped a record 13.58m to win,” eventual champion Sam Colyer from Southland Boys’ High School reflects.
“The second placed jumper improved from 12.10m to 13.14m. It was a perfect day and a nice track. Everybody did their best,” he continued.
Colyer won the long jump crown at the same event in Hastings and last week annexed the South Island Secondary Schools U16 triple jump and long jump double in Timaru.
He could soon be leaping around the world.
Next week Colyer leaves for Los Angeles to contest the Arcadia Invitational, a national high school meet, the West Coast Relays and the Bryan Clay Invitational for his club, St Pauls Harrier and Amateur Athletic Club.
“I submitted a note of interest and things started to happen. I’m not sure what to expect in the US, but it's about gaining experience and dealing with pressure,” Colyer responds when asked about the purpose of the trip.
Earlier in March, Colyer won the National Under-18 long jump and triple jump titles at the National Club Championships in Hamilton.
“Conditions were good and the triple jump went according to plan. In the long jump I was struggling until my teammates came over to watch my final jump. They encouraged me to go as hard and as high as I could. I jumped 6.37m which was good enough to win,” Colyer recalls.
Colyer has been selected for a compulsory trial at the Oceania Polynesian Games being held in Vanuatu in May. A top-two finish would see him qualify for the Youth Olympics in Argentina in October.
“I’m hoping the US will help me prepare for the pressure of Vanuatu. I’ve been jumping well and to go to the Youth Olympics would be a big deal,” Colyer anticipates.
Colyer is hoping his back will hold firm. Discomfort from spondylolysis (a vertebrae complaint) has been an ongoing concern.
“I was born with it, but it only became obvious a couple of years ago when I started feeling sharp, lower back pains. I originally thought it was a muscle injury and I was getting massage treatment to deal with it. When it wouldn’t go away, I found out it was more serious,” Colyer admits.
Colyer engages in a number of exercises prior to competing to ensure his back behaves itself.
“I sit on a chair and do twists. I have special stretches which I have researched; you can even hear me clicking in exams. My routine looks a bit strange, but it works for me,” Colyer explains.
Colyer started jumping in year six and was such a resounding victor at the primary school athletics day he took up the sport permanently. His family run an electrical business in Invercargill. Colyer is coached by local veteran Lorne Singer.
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