Es­ther takes lead

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Scott Morgan

Es­ther Ke­own is the leader of the pack.

The 16-year-old won gold in the world sec­ondary school cross­coun­try cham­pi­onship in the Czech Repub­lic last month.

Her time of nine min­utes, 18 sec­onds put her an im­pres­sive seven sec­onds ahead of the sec­ond-placed Bel­gian in the 3000 me­tre race.

And to top things off New Zealand won the team gold at the event, with Christchurch’s Han­nah New­bould com­ing in fourth.

While Es­ther led for most of the race, she says she had a feel­ing the team had done well not long af­ter she crossed the fin­ish line.

“I was look­ing back and could see a clump of black.

“I had a clue when they were across the line within 30 sec­onds of me.”

The Auck­land Girls Gram­mar stu­dent also faced a num­ber of chal­lenges dur­ing the race, in­clud­ing shirt pulling from her op­po­nents and a bar­rage of un­usual lan­guages from the side­line.

“The coaches scream­ing in dif­fer­ent lan­guages freaked me out,” she says.

Es­ther, who is coached by John Bow­den and runs for the Auck­land City Ath­let­ics Club, is set to take part in more over­seas ac­tion with races in Ger­many and Eng­land be­fore com­pet­ing in the 1500 me­tre race at the world ju­nior cham­pi­onships in Poland in July.

This comes af­ter wins in the New Zealand sec­ondary schools ju­nior women’s 1500 me­tres in De­cem­ber and the New Zealand un­der-17 women’s 3000 me­tres in March. Es­ther’s goal is to one day win a medal for New Zealand in the 1500 me­tre event at the Olympics.

But for now, proud dad Mark Ke­own is still rev­el­ling in his daugh­ter’s win.

“I didn’t ex­pect it. I thought maybe she could get in the top 10,” he says.

“So when I found out I was blown away and im­mensely proud.”

Mr Ke­own says he also has to make sure his daugh­ter doesn’t overdo train­ing be­fore her next over­seas trip.

“She does 40 min­utes six days a week, but we don’t let her run over 55 min­utes or she could get in­jured.

“We don’t have to push her into train­ing – we have to pull her back.”

To help Es­ther with spon­sor­ship for her over­seas events, email MKe­own@bcnz.ac.nz.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Train­ing hard: Es­ther Ke­own runs for up to six hours a week in prepa­ra­tion for her long-dis­tance races.

Lead­ing from the front: Es­ther Ke­own breaks away from the other com­peti­tors in the world sec­ondary school cross­coun­try champs in the Czech Repub­lic last month.

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