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