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?
Vote in our poll at the bottom.
Erika Fairweather (Kavanagh College) – Born on 31 December 2003, the cut-off date for the Youth Olympic Games, making her the youngest of the 4,000 competitors at the Bruenos Aires games. Competing in the Women’s 100m, 400m and 800m freestyle events the 14-year old Dunedin swimmer set personal bests and national age group records in both the 100m freestyle and 800m freestyle and qualified as first reserve for the 200m final. Going into the games, she held 12 national age-group records, including the girls 14 years 200m and 400m freestyle short course records.
Amelia Kerr – Tawa College - In June the year 13 Tawa College leg-spinning all-rounder set a new world batting record in women's one-day cricket with her unbeaten 232 against Ireland, the third highest score in ODI cricket history. Facing 145 balls and hitting 31 fours, and two sixes. She then took 5-17 with the ball as Ireland were bowled out for 135, chasing 441 to win. At 17 years and 243 days, Kerr became the youngest double-centurion in the format across genders. Now a regular member of the Wellington Blaze and White Ferns teams, she went on to play an international tri-series against England South Africa and then against Australia, and this month is playing in the Twenty20 Women’s World Cup.
Morgan McDowall - Auckland Diocesan – The youngest member of the NZ Women’s Water Polo team that competed in the Intercontinental Championships in April. Then part of the NZ team that competed in the FINA Women’s World Cup in September that finished seventh. Prior to that helped New Zealand to ninth place of 16 teams in the Women's Youth World Championship in Belgrade. In April, she was a key player for her school Dio completing the triple crown of secondary schools water polo by winning the Auckland, North Island and National titles in the same year. The NZSS win was the school’s first since 2008. Just year 11, the daughter of former All Black prop Steve McDowall, is recognised as a fast swimmer with a strong arm and a keen eye for finding the back for the net.
Hannah O’Connor – Sacred Heart College, New Plymouth In June, O’Connor won her fourth consecutive NZSS cross country title, after winning the senior title in 2017 and the junior title in both 2015 and 2016. In typical fashion, she shot to the lead early and she won the 4km race by 23 seconds. She followed that up with victory NI U18/U20 Cross Country Champs. Overseas, in April she finished fourth at the ISF World Secondary Schools Cross Country Championships in Paris. At the Youth Olympic Games she ran a PB 9.25.29 in finishing seventh in the 3000m and finished inside the top 20 in the 4km cross country two days
Tamara Otene – Westlake Girls’ High School - The Year 12 Westlake GHS volleyball had a big year in both indoor and beach volleyball. In Summer Tournament Week she led her school to their maiden NZSS Volleyball title. Outside hitter Otene was Tournament MVP as Westlake won without a dropping a set all week. Auckland champions Westlake beat top Bay of Plenty’s Otumoetai College in the final (25-23), (25-17), (25-21). Libero Zara Pocock also made the tournament team. Prior to indoor nationals, Otene teamed up with Maya Dickson (New Plymouth GHS) to win the Oceania Beach Volleyball qualifiers to make the Youth Olympic Games team where the pair finished in a tied for 17th.
Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (Mount Aspiring College) - In February Zoi Sadowski-Synnott became New Zealand’s first Olympic Winter Games medallist in 26 years, and only second winter medallist in history after Annelise Coburger who won silver in the women's slalom at the 1992 Winter Olympics. The Wanaka sixteen year claimed a bronze medal in the women’s snowboard Big Air at PyeongChang 2018. Prior to winning bronze, she finished 13th in the women’s snowboard slopestyle. She was subsequently selected as New Zealand's flag bearer for the 2018 Winter Olympics closing ceremony, becoming the country’s youngest-ever flag bearer. Returning home, she won the Supreme Award at the Otago Sports Awards and later Snowboarder of the Year at the Snow Sports NZ awards.
Former winners - Girls Other
2017: Phoenix Paniora (Trident High School) – volleyball
2016: Amelia Kerr (Tawa College) – cricket
Note: rugby, basketball, netball, football and hockey (all still to come) are covered in separate articles in this series.
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