Cold, windy weather in Christchurch last Saturday was nobody’s friend, but it helped Macleans College runner Theo Quax beat a strong field of rival runners to win the New Zealand U20 men’s road race championships.
Theo used his track speed to good effect to pull clear of the field in the closing stages of the eight-lap 1km circuit.
“My dad [coach and Olympic medallist Dick Quax] and I thought it would be a really tactical race because of the strong winds and really cold conditions,” he told College Sport Media. “There were lots of strong athletes like Mitchell Small, Oli Chignall and James Uhlenburg and I just planned to try and stay with them as long as I could and then use my speed at the end to try and get a podium finish.”
The plan worked perfectly. After sitting with the chasing group for much of the race, he surged away over the final lap to win from Oli Chignall (recent NZ cross country champion and former John McGlashan College) and Mitchell Small (former NZSS cross country champion and former St Andrew’s College).
Theo said that it was a tough run home.
“That last lap was real tough, especially with Oli pushing that last lap. It was a struggle to hang on over the final 400m and I was thankful I did. I knew who ever rounded that last corner first would come out with it so I had to push it into there,” he said.
Next up for Theo are the Auckland Schools road race and the national road relays, where he will be representing his Pakuranga club.
Then the NZSS Track and Field Championships in Hastings in December, where he is going to concentrate on the senior 1500m. “I am not really a fan of doubling at events like that, that are only over two or three days.”
“I think that Isaiah Priddey [Hamilton Boys’ High School] and James Uhlenberg [Sacred Heart College] will only be doing the 1500m and we are all going for a good time there.”
The middle distance races at the NZSS championships are always hotly contested.
Last year in Auckland Theo finished third behind winner Matthew Manning of Saint Kentigern College and Nick Mouai of St Bede’s College after settling in amongst the leaders midway through the 1500m.
There was a moment of drama on the home straight when Nick was checked on the heels of Matthew and almost crashed out. “That was a hard race and a really good win from Matt, the finish of that race is just the nature of the sport,” explained Theo.
Watch last year’s Senior Boys 1500m final here (Theo representing Macleans College in white singlet):
Theo, who is head boy at Macleans College this year, won’t be the only athlete from his school with high hopes in Hastings this December.
“My good friend Flynn Palmer will be going for gold in the 800m, while Kamal Patwalia is a sprinter and long jumper looking for a podium place as well.”
Theo recently watched a lot of the World Track and Field Championships from London on television, taking a particularly keen interest in the middle distance races.
“I get nervous watching Nick Willis though, I find he gets himself boxed in a lot.”
Theo explained that going forward, the 800m and 1500m races are what he wants to concentrate on. “With the distance races I just try and hang in there as long as I can and then let go towards the end.”
Nothing is firmed yet, but he is eyeing up a running scholarship in the USA next year.
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