Mana ju­nior ath­letes shine

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

They can fin­ish each other’s sen­tences and their ba­ton changes are seam­less.

Anya Dun­lop-Brown, Abby Draper, El­iz­a­beth Hewitt and Chloe Tin­ney, all 10, were among 39 Mana Am­a­teur Ath­let­ics Club com­peti­tors at the re­cent North Is­land Col­gate Games, held in New­town.

Anya took sil­ver in the high jump, and El­iz­a­beth won bronze in the shot put, but it was the four­some’s ex­cit­ing win in their age group’s 4 x 100m re­lay that was one of the club’s high­lights.

A com­bi­na­tion of hot con­di­tions and nerves didn’t make their task easy. Mana club cap­tain and coach Alan Tay­lor said the race was won be­cause of solid ba­ton changes and the fact they know each other so well.

‘‘There was an ex­pec­ta­tion they would win, but there was a bit of pres­sure on them,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s the friend­ship be­tween them that makes it suc­cess­ful. They work so hard for each other.’’

Anya said the four­some did well at the Wellington champs last year, so they were con­fi­dent.

Be­cause North Har­bour Bays had one of the coun­try’s best 10- year- old sprint­ers run­ning last, Chloe had to hang on for dear life to hit the tape mil­lisec­onds in front.

‘‘It was re­ally tight in the end, but we were so happy to win,’’ Anya said.

The girls have been train­ing at Ad­ven­ture Park nearly ev­ery night since Oc­to­ber. That will con- tinue with the Wellington champs loom­ing in March.

Why do they do it? Friend­ship and fun. ‘‘The club is warm and wel­com­ing,’’ Abby said. ‘‘Ev­ery­one is re­ally tight and gets on well. We [Mana] may be small, but we’re good.’’

The fit­ness and stamina earned at ath­let­ics was bril­liant for netball, hockey, swimming and other sports, they said.

Tay­lor said Mana might not pull the same num­bers as Olympic or Ti­tahi Bay, but there was a loyal fol­low­ing. The small club, based in Whitby, has about 90 mem­bers.

The fun-based pro­gramme of­ten bears fruit at events like Col­gate and also serves to bring par­ents and chil­dren to­gether. ‘‘We find a lot of peo­ple who were in­volved as kids come back as par­ents, bring­ing their kids,’’ he said.

The suc­cess of the 4 x 100m gold medal­lists was some­thing other ath­letes in the club would as­pire to and he was con­fi­dent the girls would stay to­gether as a team for the next four years.

Mana club ath­letes picked up six medals at the Col­gates, which drew more than 4000 ath­letes aged from 7 to 14 from around the coun­try.

Mana’s other gold medal­list was Abby’s 13- year- old brother Cameron, in the walk­ing race.

Other clubs that had Porirua and Tawa ath­letes at Col­gates were Olympic Har­rier Club and Ti­tahi Bay Am­a­teur Ath­letic Club. Ti­tahi Bay had 70 ath­letes com­pet­ing and they won 12 medals – three gold, six sil­ver and three bronze medals.

Olympic Har­ri­ers draws its mem­bers from Wellington, Tawa and Porirua. Its 93 com­peti­tors won 13 gold, eight sil­ver and 15 bronze medals.

Photo: KRIS DANDO

Fab­u­lous four: From left, Mana Am­a­teur Ath­letic Club’s Anya Dun­lop-Brown, Abby Draper, El­iz­a­beth Hewitt and Chloe Tin­ney could dom­i­nate the 4 x 100m re­lay at the Col­gate Games for sev­eral years.

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