The recent Dunedin held National Secondary School Track and Field Championships saw four triple jump gold medals up for grabs. Southland athletes took half of them.
Southland continued a proud record in the event and currently holds three of the four championship records: Junior Girls (Jade Graham), Senior, Girls (Atipa Mabonga) and Junior Boys (Sam Colyer).
Based on performance to date Quinn Hartley (James Hargest College) was one of the favourites in the Junior Boys competition. Quinn had already won gold in the long jump so motivation and concentration for the triple was in doubt.
No need to worry. The first jump put him into second, the third into first, and while improving each jump it was a position he held for the next three rounds.
But it was the sixth and final jump where he showed the field what he is made of, upping his already winning leaps from the third, fourth and fifth rounds by an outstanding 60 cm and finishing a notable 70cm ahead of second.
For 14 year old Quinn it was an impressive championship with a high jump bronze to go with his long and triple jump golds.
Andrew Allan (Gore High School) won the Senior Boys triple previous year, in fact was the only returning gold medalist from a Southland school. As existing champion and highest ranked jumper in the competition Andrew was expected to medal. But he had been had been suffering from injuries that hampered preparation.
Again, no need to worry. Andrew’s fighting spirit had him in second from the opening jump. While improving through subsequent rounds he was still second with one jump to go.
With the urging of the large crowd clapping in time to his gradually accelerating run-up the 18 year old hit the board perfectly and launched himself skywards. The crowd grew silent as the official measured the distance. Then as a roar as 14.21 went up on the board; a 35cm improvement, a PB and the winning distance.
One jumper to go. Andrew, coach and crowd help their breath as Charles Annals from Hamilton Boys’ High School finished the competition with a good 14.16, and the silver medal. Close, but not close enough to edge Andrew out of the gold. More than one person commented that this was the best, most competitive competition of the games.
Is it the Southland air or is it in the water? Greer Alsop (SGHS) won in similar circumstances back in 2010, the first of her three consecutive senior triple jumps titles. (Atipa Mabonga, SCC, carried on the tradition, winning three uninterrupted senior titles). Greer also had had her build up restricted by injuries, in fact was unable to even run for five weeks prior to the championships and she too finished first, winning on her very last jump.
Story by Lance Smith
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