Vol­un­teers key to vic­tory

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT -

‘‘We knew it was go­ing to be close, we’re just so happy.’’

That’s the sen­ti­ment from Jo Mur­ray of Olympic Har­ri­ers, af­ter they were awarded the pres­ti­gious In­ter­club Tro­phy for over­all points earned through­out the sum­mer ath­let­ics sea­son.

Fif­teen clubs from the Welling­ton re­gion – in­clud­ing pre­vi­ous hold­ers Ti­tahi Bay Ama­teur Ath­let­ics Club – com­pete for the tro­phy from Novem­ber to March, with place- get­ting ath­letes awarded points in each event.

Olympic Har­ri­ers was founded over 100 years ago but has only of­fered a ju­nior track and field sec­tion since 2006. From hum­ble be­gin­nings where a hand­ful of 7-to-15 year olds would com­pete at In­ter­club and Col­gate Games, this sea­son Olympic had 70 at the Welling­ton champs and about half that num­ber at the Col­gates.

Mur­ray puts their suc­cess down to a com­mit­ted group of par­ents and coaches at events and club nights at Gre­nada North Park. She cites the in­flu­ence of Juan Mcdon­ald, Alas­tair Les­lie and Amanda Gold­smith as key to their ac­com­plish­ments.

‘‘Olympic has re­ally grown in the past few years and it just shows that if you have enough peo­ple will­ing, you can make a dif­fer­ence. There’s a lot of work that goes on in the back­ground to keep ath­let­ics clubs go­ing and we wouldn’t be able to achieve what we have with­out our vol­un­teers.’’

Les­lie can be cred­ited with en­sur­ing a ‘‘drop off’’ in ath­letes af­ter the age of 15 does not hap­pen, she says.

‘‘He works with our mid­dle dis­tance ath­letes and puts in hours of his own time, hav­ing a real skill in work­ing out what type of train­ing suits each kid. The ath­letes have lots of fun to­gether, push each other on and en­cour­age one an­other to reach their goals.’’

Gold­smith, mean­while, coaches the sprint­ers and is an ‘‘amaz­ing’’ jumps coach, says Mur­ray.

The re­cent Welling­ton ju­nior champs were also fruit­ful for Olympic. Kushla Smith was a stand­out, break­ing a 30-year-old record in the 1500m for 10-yearolds, and won gold in the 400m, sil­ver in the 800m and 200m, and was a mem­ber of the 4 x 100m re­lay team that won gold.

A club open day is on March 31 at John­sonville’s Alex Moore Park. Ju­niors 1pm, se­niors 2pm.

Pho­tos sup­plied

Set­ting the pace: Kushla Smith from Olympic leads Hutt’s Lucy Eng­land home in the 1500m final at the Welling­ton ju­nior ath­let­ics champs.

Olympic sil­ver­ware: Olympic Har­ri­ers’ Juan Mcdon­ald, Amanda Gold­smith and Jo Mur­ray with the spoils of vic­tory af­ter con­firm­ing the In­ter­club Tro­phy at the Welling­ton ju­nior ath­let­ics champs on March 18.

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