Pain is temporary, pride is forever,” declares Sean Howe when explaining his decision to compete in the McEvedy Shield a fortnight ago.
On the weekend prior to the event, Howe sustained an unfortunate and unusual injury which put his place on the Wellington College team in potential jeopardy.
“I was at a youth night at the church of my friend Nathaniel Sulupo, who’s also a good athlete. We were fooling around and I was pushed into a wall and landed badly on my toe. The injury required a crutch,” Howe explains.
What did Howe say when he had to confront his coaches with news of the injury? An experienced and cynical school teacher might struggle to find injuries at church a plausible explanation.
“That wasn’t easy, but I told them the truth and they trust me so they had to accept it,” Howe recalls.
In 2015, Howe threw a shot put and discus for the first time and found the pursuit instantly appealing. A year later, Howe was good enough to finish fifth at the North Island Secondary School Championships.
Further success followed at the 2017 McEvedy Shield when Howe won the discus, but peak-form was struck at the National Secondary School Championships in Hastings in December, 2017.
Howe threw two PB’s in winning a silver medal in the shot put and a bronze in the discus. Howe was the only left hander in each of the finals.
“I was real pleased with my results at Nationals. The competition was pretty stiff, but I worked hard and competing at that level felt great,” Howe enthuses.
Howe’s initial efforts in the shot put at the 2018 McEvedy Shield weren’t great, but he soon warmed to his work.
“Nothing was going to stop me competing. It’s my last McEvedy and I love it. My first few throws were a bit painful, but with my fourth throw I set a PB of 15.67m which was good enough to win,” Howe recalls.
Howe also won the senior discus at McEvedy, an event he finished second in at the National Club Championships, throwing a PB of 50.42m.
The emotion of winning McEvedy under personal duress proved a little overwhelming for Howe. A video of him leading a celebratory haka with his crutch emulating the actions of a swinging taiaha caused a bit of a stir.
“The response has been pretty mixed, but I guess most people have seen it as pretty humorous or spirited,” Howe reflects.
“I’m Maori and have being doing Kapa Haka for nine years so I’m pretty immersed in the culture. It was just one of those things that happened. Our team was waiting for someone to step up and lead the haka. When nobody did, I thought who else would be better than me,” Howe continued.
What did the Maori teacher say?
“He didn’t say anything, he didn’t have to,” Howe laughs.
Howe is coached by former Samoan Olympian Shaka Sola who runs an Academy in the capital.
Howe will compete at the North Island champions in Wanganui on April 6. The next major goal for the chirpy southpaw is to earn selection for the New Zealand team who will compete at the Oceania Championships in Samoa in October.
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