I didn’t know if I could make the final. I won the semi-final, but it was a bloody struggle,” Tom Moulai concedes of his 800-metres semi-final heat at the National Secondary Schools Athletics Championships in Auckland.
In the warm up to the semis Moulai sustained a Grade-2 ankle sprain and battled grimly to victory.
“I was warming up on the back track and felt it go. It was pretty painful,” Moulai says.
The 18-year-old from St Bede’s College was always going to try and run one last time for his school, but a career best performance seemed unlikely.
Moulai ran a new lifetime best of 1:54.43 to finish 0.96 clear of silver medalist Joshua Nairne from St Patricks College, Wellington.
“I guess the adrenalin kicked in, but I am pretty sore now. It was quite a young field. I hadn’t run against a lot of these guys before which made me nervous,” Moulai reflects.
It was a stellar weekend for the Moulai family. Younger brother Nick shattered a nine-year-old national record in the senior 3000m.
Nick won a gold in 8min 16.77sec, whipping 5.18sec off Dallas Bowden’s 2007 mark, set in Wellington. Moulai’s winning time was more than 35 seconds faster than his time over 3000m at the same event last year, when he crossed the line in 8min 52.59sec to finish second in the junior boys event.
Barely a couple of hours after Tom’s 800 metre triumph, Nick was right in contention heading up the back straight in the Senior Boys 1500m final, but faded after a collision barely 50 metres from home.
Earlier this year Nick became the first athlete in the under-16 boys section to run under four minutes for the metric mile. He clocked 3min 59.47sec at the South Island secondary schools championships in Timaru in April, breaking Tom’s two-year record in the process.
“It’s crazy what Nick did,” Tom says.
“We are both really competitive and I think that brings out the best in both of us.”
Tom wasn’t the only St. Bede’s athlete to overcame injury to win gold. Hamish Gill won the 110m hurdles despite facing shoulder surgery on Thursday. The First XV winger almost stumbled over the final hurdle too!
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