A wide range of high achieving males in a variety of sports this year.
Our selections below and scroll down to vote in our poll.
Connor Bell (Westlake Boys’ High School) - Without a shadow of doubt, Connor Bell is the best age group discus thrower in the world. At the Youth Olympics in Argentina, Bell claimed the gold medal by a whopping 18-metres throwing a personal best and Olympic Youth record of 66.84 metres. “To get out on the board reasonably early in the competition was an absolute joy,” Bell said after his convincing victory. Earlier in the year oppressively hot weather and a largely unsuitable diet wasn't enough to prevent Bell from winning the Micronesian Athletics Championships in Vanuatu. Bell threw 64.47m which at the time was his third best effort. Bell’s PB prior to the Youth Olympics was 65.63m.
Seamus Curtin (Aotea College) – The Aotea College Head Boy was named the Emerging Sportsman of the Year at the Hutt Valley Sports Awards in May and was a nomination for College Sport Wellington Sportsman of the Year in November. Earlier in the year he was third in the singles of the National Bowls Championships in Dunedin, as well as finishing runner-up in the fours and reaching the quarter-finals of the pairs. At the inter-centre championships in early April, he was unbeaten in the singles for Wellington, helping it win the team title. But it was his golden run at the Australian Open at the Broadbeach Bowling Club in June that really had heads turning. In a field of 800 competitors, Curtin advanced to the final four, defeating former world champion of champions singles winner Scott Thulborn, of South Australia and pushing Commonwealth Games silver medallist Ryan Bester (Canada) all the way in the semi-finals before going down 21-15. Bester went on to win the title. In June, Curtin went on a run of 31 wins in 33 singles games, including the Australian Open. Curtin is a member of the Black Jacks high performance programme.
Louis Ferigo (Sacred Heart College) - An unbeaten season was at stake for the Sacred Heart College water polo team heading into the final quarter of the National Secondary Schools decider against Westlake Boys’ High School in April. Sacred Heart made a flying start by scoring the first three goals of the game, but Westlake pulled the deficit back to 8-7 with five minutes to play. Any thoughts of an upset were quickly dashed by Ferigo, who after scoring the first two goals of the game, added two more to ensure Sacred Heart became the Auckland, North Island and National champions in the same season. Ferigo was named tournament MVP and explained to College Sport Media why he believed he received that accolade by saying: “I’ve always been smaller than most players so I’ve had to work really hard on defense. However my size allows me to move quickly around the pool, and a lot of the goals I score are counter goals because of my swimming.” Ferigo will return to school in 2019 for his fourth season in the premier team and has been a New Zealand age group representative.
Jayden Ford (St Patrick’s College, Silverstream) - Jayden Ford’s golf clubs were sitting idle at Glasgow airport for two days - somehow lost in transit from London. Hardly ideal preparation for competing in the Junior Open Championship, an event featuring 142 players from 78 different countries. Ironically Ford shot a better round with borrowed clubs than he did with his own. “I shot one-under in round one and even par in round two,” Ford explained. “That was pretty funny I guess, but there was no way I was using other clubs for the whole tournament.” Entering the third and final round at Eden, St Andrew’s, Ford was eight shots from the lead. With the familiar feel of his own equipment he suddenly caught fire, shooting -4 in his last 12 holes to rapidly surge up the leaderboard and finish third - the best result from any Kiwi at the event. Ford was only two strokes shy of eventual winner, South African Martin Vorster at the biannual U16 event. The most notable winner of the Junior Open is American Patrick Reed who won the US Masters this year. Former world number ones Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth were also competitors. Ford is already a member of the Wellington senior representative team.
Dylan McCullough (Saint Kentigern College) - Dylan McCullough claimed New Zealand’s first medal of the Youth Olympic Games, winning gold against a stacked triathlon field in Buenos Aires. The 18-year-old broke away to a 13-second lead in the run, after a tight-fought bike ride with Italy’s Alessio Crociani. McCullough managed to extend his advantage in the run finishing 26 seconds ahead of Alexandre Montez from Portugal. The individual triathlon featured 32 competitors, each from a different country. McCullough later teamed up with fellow Kiwi Brea Roderick (Mount Hutt College) to win a silver medal in a Mixed Relay event. McCullough’s gold adds to New Zealand’s strong history in triathlon at the Youth Olympic Games. Aaron Barclay won gold in Singapore in 2010, and Daniel Hoy placed second four years later at Nanjing. New Zealand athletes also combined with the Australian pair in the Mixed Relay Team Event to win silver in 2010 and bronze in 2014.
Nico Porteous (Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu) - The New Zealand skier at 16 years and 91 days old became New Zealand's youngest ever Olympic medalist when he became the first male to claim a Winter Olympics medal winning a bronze medal in the halfpipe in PyeongChang in February. Porteous started with an 82.50 before stunning everyone - nobody more than himself - with an incredible 94.80 on his second run. Porteous was briefly in a gold medal position, but was overtaken by two Americans. In September Porteous reinforced his quality by winning the FIS Junior Freeski Halfpipe World Championships at his home mountain of Cardrona Alpine Resort. Again after a modest first run, Porteous came through with a winning run when it most counted. Porteous was named Snow Sport New Zealand Freeskier of the Year.
Corbin Strong (Southland Boys’ High School) - The Southland Secondary Schools Sportsman of the Year became a world champion in August when he was part of the New Zealand cycling team in Skoda Fruzio, who claimed the 4000m team pursuit title at the UCI junior track cycling world championships. Remarkably in January, Strong fractured his T1 vertebra in a nasty collision with a car. Despite at least two months recovery, Strong quickly bounced back to win the Timaru leg of the Calder Stewart Cycling Series and has preserved his position as one of New Zealand’s leading age group riders. Story was recently 10th overall in the Tour of Southland.
Former winners - Boys Other
2017: Lewis Clareburt (Scots College) - Swimming
2016: Campbell Stewart (Palmerston North BHS) - Cycling
2015: Tarquinn Alatipi (St Patrick’s College, Silverstream) - Rugby League/Troy Johnson- (Hutt International BS) - Cricket
The Champion of Champion series is not intended to be a definitive list of the ‘best’ athletes in each code, rather it celebrates many of the leading athletes and teams in each that College Sport Media has followed this year. Preference has gone to those individuals/teams that CSM has interviewed and profiled in 2018. Got a story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
College Sport Media is dedicated to telling the story of successful young sportspeople in New Zealand