Disc golf sil­ver

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

Disc golf may not be part of the Olympic or Par­a­lympic pan­theon, but its medals are just as hard won.

Palmer­ston North’s New Zealand women’s disc golf cham­pion has re­turned from Canada with a sil­ver medal in the al­ter­nate sport.

In Au­gust, Gemma Sul­li­van went to Van­cou­ver as a mem­ber of the Fly­ing Ki­wis eight-mem­ber disc golf team to con­test the inau­gu­ral world team cham­pi­onships.

The Tribune first talked to Sul­li­van about the fast grow­ing sport in April, her fundrais­ing cam­paign to get to the worlds, and her bid to have a city disc golf course set up in the Lin­klater Re­serve.

Disc golf rules and terms are the same as for golf, ex­cept in­stead of clubs, it is played with plas­tic fly­ing discs. Canada is the home and a strong­hold of the sport, and for the fledg­ling Kiwi team to come out run­ners-up in the 18-hole match play tour­na­ment against five other na­tions, was some­thing of an up­set.

‘‘It was an awe­some trip. We didn’t ex­pect to do so well as disc golf is not nearly as big here as it is there.’’

Sul­li­van played a piv­otal role in get­ting the team into the fi­nals by sink­ing a vi­tal putt in the semi against Canada to en­sure a play­off that the Ki­wis went on to win.

How­ever, in the fi­nal, a game Sul­li­van didn’t take part in, Team USA proved too strong and the New Zealand team set­tled for sil­ver and a US$1500 purse.

Fa­mous Kiwi sports­man­ship was on dis­play too, with the Ki­wis shar­ing the com­pe­ti­tion’s Spirit of the Game award with Brazil.

Be­ing at the tour­na­ment though, opened Sul­li­van’s eyes to just how big the sport was in the north­ern hemi­sphere.

‘‘There are so many peo­ple on the cour­ses - they were packed. The in­ter­est is huge.’’

Sul­li­van was look­ing for­ward to de­fend­ing her ti­tle in Fe­bru­ary at the Par­adise Course near Queen­stown, a tour­na­ment that has at­tracted sev­eral over­seas play­ers.

There are also hopes of re­peat­ing July’s suc­cess­ful Fox­ton Friendly which was held on the town’s golf course, and also next year, Sul­li­van will be help­ing de­sign and es­tab­lish Palmer­ston North’s first disc golf course with her brother and fel­low Fly­ing Ki­wis mem­ber Jack­son.

Sul­li­van’s pro­posal for the course at Lin­klater Re­serve was suc­cess­ful, and work is ex­pected to be­gin in July next year.

PHOTO: MUR­RAY WIL­SON/FAIR­FAX NZ

New Zealand women’s disc golf cham­pion Gemma Sul­li­van has re­turned from the first world team championship event with a sil­ver medal.

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