Some outstanding female athletes to celebrate in this category this year, across a variety of sports. Who would your pick be from the names below?
Ellesse Andrews (St Peter’s School, Cambridge) - In August, St Peter’s School, Cambridge, Year 13 cyclist Ellesse Andrews added ‘world record holder’ to her long list of achievements. Competing at the 2017 UCI Junior World Track Cycling Championships in Montichiari, Italy, Ellesse won a world title for the second year running. After winning gold in the Team Sprint (with Emma Cummings) and bronze in the 2km Individual Pursuit in Switzerland in 2016, Ellesse stepped it up another notch this year, smashing the 2km Individual Pursuit world record by four seconds. It rounded off a successful week of racing for Andrews, who along with team mates Nicole Shields, Katie Smith and Emily Sharman, also won silver for New Zealand in the 4km Team Pursuit.
Amelia Kerr (Tawa College) - Amelia Kerr can now put her opponents in a spin fulltime – in September she became the youngest ever contracted White Fern at 16-years. Having made her debut last November, she played every match at the Women's Cricket World Cup in England in June. The leg spinner finished inside the top ten wicket-takers at the tournament, something coach Haidee Tiffen said was down to her having a cool head in pressure situations. Kerr is a year 12 student at Tawa College. She is also a handy bat – in February she scored 119 for Wellington, which was the 100th century scored in the women’s domestic One-Day competition and she became the youngest ever centurion in the competition – a tick over two years younger than Suzie Bates was when she scored 183 not out against Auckland when she was 18.
Phoenix Paniora (Trident High School) - “I love my sports, I don’t know where I would be without my sports,” Phoenix told College Sport Media in April. She plays volleyball, netball and Touch having played for both her school and for Bay of Plenty representative sides on a regular basis over the past few years. Volleyball was her focus for much of 2017 though – having played for the New Zealand U18 Women’s volleyball Team that finished eighth in the Asian Youth U18 Girls Volleyball Championship in China and then named as the girls tournament MVP at the NZSS secondary School Volleyball Championships, after helping her Trident team win the Division 1title for the first time. Phoneix was then selected for the full NZ Women’s Volleyball team, making her full international debut at the 2017 Asian Women's Senior Volleyball Championship in the the Philippines in August. She has also been named in the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Beko netball squad for 2018.
Pallas Potter (Sacred Heart College, Lower Hutt) - In late July Pallas Potter captained the youthful Junior White Sox (Women’s U19s) team at the Junior World Series in Florida. This was her second time in this team after making it as a year 11 in 2015, and she is eligible for the 2019 Junior World Series too. She recently won Softball New Zealand’s Emerging Player of the Year award and has now been selected in the senior White Sox squad and is already footing it in the senior ranks at the highest level. Pallas also played as a defender in the Sacred Heart College netball team that finished a credible 10th of 16 teams at the October NZSS Netball Championships.
Olivia McTaggart (Kristin School) - In January, Kristin School Year 13 pole vaulter Olivia McTaggart jumped a personal best of 4.40m in Hastings, which was just .05 metres away from Rio bronze medallist and training partner Eliza McCartney's New Zealand U18 record. “The feeling off the top of the pole is seriously amazing, if you do it properly, it just feels like you’re flying for that split second and it’s what it’s all about when you get over that bar, Olivia told College Sport Media in February. The New Zealand U20 champion went on to finish third to McCartney at the Australian Athletics championships and spent a month in the New Zealand winter competing in Europe. Will be one of the drawcards at this year’s NZSS Track and Field Championships in the Hawke’s Bay.
Zoi Sadowski Synnott (Mount Aspiring College) - In September Wanaka snowboarder Zoi Sadowski Synnott, 16, was named Snow Sports NZ's top athlete for 2017. The Mt Aspiring College student won her first snowboard world cup earlier this year, making her just the third Kiwi to win a world cup. Sadowski Synnott I was subsequently selected for the New Zealand team to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Sadowski Synnot's World Cup win came during her first season competing on the Northern Hemisphere world cup circuit. She is currently ranked third on the International Ski Federation (FIS) world cup standings for women's snowboard slopestyle. Her world cup triumph in the Czech Republic at the end of March was hot on the heels of a silver medal at the world championships in Spain. She also claimed a world cup bronze in Snowboard Big Air in Quebec, Canada in February. Sadowski Synnott also won a world cup slopestyle bronze medal in front of her Cardrona home crowd at the Audi Quattro Winter Games NZ in August.
Veronica Wall (Ashburton College) - In 2016, Ashburton College rower Veronica Wall became the first person to win the U16, U17 and U18 single sculls events at the Maadi Cup regatta, and also won , the U18 coxed quad. This year at Lake Karapiro, the 17-year old repeated the dose, winning four more golds , swapping the U16 single sculls for the U18 double sculls, She won the U17 single sculls by nine seconds, the U18 single sculls by 12 seconds, the U18 double sculls, with Grace Wilson, by nearly four seconds, and the U18 coxed quad, with Wilson, Mollie Gibson, Olivia Gibson and cox Emma Jansen, by slightly more than four seconds. In August she competed for New Zealand at the 2017 World Rowing Junior Championships in Lithuania.
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 2017. Got a story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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