Olly Parkinson has jumped to National Secondary Schools hurdles titles and played for the New Zealand Under-18 Maori rugby team in the past two years.
The Auckland Grammar prefect and athletics captain is a recipient of the Sir Wilson Whineray scholarship which entitles him to $15,000 towards University fees and for playing club rugby for Grammar Tec. Is Parkinson done on the track?
“It’s a huge privilege to get the Whineray scholarship. I’m one of two recipients along with my friend Corey Evans. I’m still going to do both sports. I’m in the Pathway to Podium program for hurdles and rugby’s gone well,” Parkinson enthuses.
At the National Secondary Schools athletics championships in Dunedin last weekend, Parkinson successfully defended his 110m hurdles title. The conditions were tricky at the Caledonian Ground.
“It was really windy which makes it hard to build up your stride before each hurdle. I ran 14.65 which is a little bit slow, but I was happy to win again,” Parkinson reflects.
Parkinson’s PB is 14.15 achieved at the equivalent meeting in Hastings last year. Hamish Lock from St Patrick’s College, Silverstream was second - a position Parkinson had to settle for in the 300m hurdles behind Mattheus Pio from St Paul’s Collegiate.
“I was second last year so I was disappointed to finish second again, but it was a pretty good weekend,” Parkinson said.
In addition to the hurdles Parkinson ran the last leg in Grammar’s 4x100m and 4x400m relay successes. In the shorter event Parkinson was joined by Dominic Overend, Jamie Chambers-Steward and Liam Wong. The 400m relay team comprised of Ben Kelsey, Wynton Richards and Finn Ward.
Parkinson is the captain of athletics at Grammar and the sport is a natural fit with his family enjoying a long history of involvement. His grandfather and father were nationally ranked athletes and Olly is coach by Joe Hunter, the New Zealand High Performance hurdles coach.
“I’ve being working with Joe for a couple of years. I had another coach before Joe who knew Joe. When Joe said he wanted to work with me we both agreed to a swap. I’m grateful for Joe’s expertise and passion,” Parkinson acclaims.
In rugby Parkinson’s speed made him an obvious fit on the wing, but it wasn’t until he switched to flanker things started to happen.
“I went to an Under-16 Central tournament and Matt Atiga moved me. I was a bit surprised, but after the switch I kept making rep teams so I stayed there,” Parkinson reflects.
Parkinson has been a member of the Auckland Grammar First XV for the past two years. In 2018 Grammar finished fifth, narrowly missing the semi-finals.
“That was disappointing. We had an awesome forward pack and dominated most teams up front, but we were inexperienced and a few things went against us,” Parkinson rues.
Parkinson was excluded from the New Zealand Schools and Barbarians squads gaining a representative lifeline in the New Zealand Maori which he conceded was initially difficult.
“It was a challenge. I’d never really taken much notice of my Maori side. All the tikanga was a culture shock, but awesome and encouraging too.”
The novel messages worked a treat. The Maori stunned the Barbarians 21-20 with Parkinson crossing the stripe for a try and then foiled a fast finishing Fiji 20-15. The Maori weren’t necessarily expected to win either game.
“I think the bond we created was a big part of our success. Our Maori culture is something we only share in common. We were all disappointed not to take the Schools and Barbarians so we all felt we all had something to prove,” Parkinson observers.
Parkinson has studied Maths, English and Geography and Business in class this year and will pursue the latter at AUT next year.
Note: Auckland Grammar enjoyed a successful meeting at the New Zealand Secondary Schools athletics championships. In addition to Parkinson’s triumphs other highlights included Dominic Overend winning the 100m/200m sprint double while Year 11 student Michael Percival-Afeaki struck gold in the 100m, 200m, Long Jump, Shot Put and Javelin in the para-athletics competition.
College Sport Media is dedicated to telling the story of successful young sportspeople in New Zealand