Special day for special folk
Children ran, jumped and threw their way into the record books at Mt Smart Stadium this week.
The Auckland Secondary and Special Schools Athletics Ribbon Day saw more than 300 young people with special needs competing in track and field events.
Students were split into groups of three-to-five competitors based on previous results.
Mount Roskill Grammar student Paul Takiwa says he hoped to win all his events, including the 15 to 21-year-old male long jump title.
“I want to beat the other guys. I’ve been training hard with my friends.”
Long Bay College student Mark Halkyard was ecstatic with his second placing in the boy’s 12 to 15-year-old 100m sprint.
“I’ve never done it before but I’m over the moon,” he says.
Henderson High School student Gareth Scott had a busy day, taking part in the 12 to 15-year-old 100m, turbo javelin and softball throw, as did Caleb Maine from Pakuranga College.
Northcote College’s Ashleigh Zander represented her school for the third year at the event.
“It’s about doing your best,” she says.
Competitors were helped by students from Pinehurst School and Henderson High as well as officials from the New Zealand Institute of Sport and Auckland Athletics.
Pinehurst year 13 student Mitchell Cassidy says he had no hesitation in volunteering his time.
“I’ve done it for a few years now – it’s probably one of the biggest I’ve been to.
“It’s really good to see everyone compete.”
Special Olympics regional sports coordinator Hayley Mitchell says the athletes had a great time despite a bit of rain in the afternoon.
“Everyone was in really good spirits,” she says.
“The athletes gave their all out there and they can be proud of themselves.”
Lift off: Paul Takiwa of Mt Roskill Grammar takes part in the long jump at Mt Smart Stadium.
Wheel power: Caleb Maine of Pakuranga College takes part in the 12 to 15-year-old boys 100m race at Mt Smart Stadium.
Airborne: Ashleigh Zander of Northcote College hurls the ball in the softball throw at the Auckland Secondary and Special Schools Athletics Day.
On the run: Henderson High’s Gareth Scott stretches out in the 12 to 15-year-old boys 100m.