Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Athletics: Talented twins reign at Challenge

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Katikati's 11-year-old twin runners Daniel (left) and Sean Nicholson.
Katikati's 11-year-old twin runners Daniel (left) and Sean Nicholson.

Identical twins Daniel and Sean Nicholson, 11, made a real impact against some of the best young runners in Australia and New Zealand at the Trans Tasman Challenge at Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium last Sunday.

They were right there together going hammer and tongs the whole way in both races. No one else was really even close.
Roger Brickland

The outstanding middle-distance runners from the Katikati Athletic Club showed a clean pair of heels to the rest of the field in finishing first and second in both the 800m and 1500m.

Not for the first time they shared the spoils, with Daniel winning the 800m and Sean first home in the 1500m. Both races were won in smart times for the age group, with the margin between them as tight as it always is when they compete against each other.

Sean ran 2min 31sec and Daniel 2:32 in the 800m with Daniel winning the 1500m in 4:53 and Sean second in 4:54.

Event manager Rodger Brickland from Athletics Auckland said they were extraordinary boys.

"It is pretty special. That five-minute barrier is a hard one to crack and for an 11-year-old to do it is fairly exceptional," he said.

They came up to Auckland in November and trialled for the team. Sean won both the 1500 and the 800 and Daniel was second in both.

But in the actual Challenge held on Sunday, Sean won the 800 with Daniel second and Daniel won the 1500 with Sean second.

"They were right there together going hammer and tongs the whole way in both races. No one else was really even close.

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They were just a couple of machines running behind each other.

"In the 1500 they really ground it out and tried to pass each other and showed just how competitive they really are."

Sunday's meeting was the 40th anniversary of the Trans Tasman Challenge.

Every year 120 boys aged 10 and 11 compete in New Zealand and Australia on alternative years.

The outstanding performances from the twins followed their record-breaking effort at the annual Jennings Cup junior club meeting held at Tauranga Domain in November.

Both comfortably smashed a record that had stood since 1992 with a remarkable run in the 1500m race.

Daniel ran 4m 45s to beat his brother Sean home by 1.1s to have his name etched in the record books.

That performance showcased their prodigious talent in what was just their third race over the distance.

The brothers love most other sports, including surf lifesaving, football, rugby, cross country and swimming, but middle-distance running is clearly where they have the most potential.

Their double success at the Trans Tasman Challenge following on from that remarkable day at Tauranga Domain augurs well for their development as potential track stars.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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