Mana junior athletes shine
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.
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.