Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Athletics: Sprinters to take on world's best

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Tauranga sprinters Ethan Holman, left, and Brooke Somerfield will represent New Zealand at the World Junior Athletic Championships in Poland. Photo / George Novak
Tauranga sprinters Ethan Holman, left, and Brooke Somerfield will represent New Zealand at the World Junior Athletic Championships in Poland. Photo / George Novak

Ethan Holman and Brooke Somerfield are about to take on the best sprinters in the world.

The Tauranga athletes leave on Saturday as part of the New Zealand 4x100m relay teams to contest the IAAF World U20 Championships to be held in Bydgoszcz, Poland from July 19-24.

Somerfield, 19, will lead the New Zealand women's relay team in the first leg after she missed the 100m qualifying individual mark by just 0.05 seconds.

"I am definitely really excited. It is a huge opportunity that we have been given and is a huge step for sprinters in New Zealand," Somerfield said.

"It is especially good to have such a good group in the relays of junior girls and boys going.

"The nerves haven't really kicked in yet. I suppose when we are over there preparing for the champs I will get a bit more nervous but I'm just honoured to be a part of this.

"Experiencing it and competing against the top junior sprinters in the world will be really good going forward for future competitions."

A highlight of the summer for her was setting a new PB of 11.85 sec at the Australian Under-20 champs in April.

Somerfield is happy to be the lead-out runner, which avoids the baton changing process the next runners face.

"My starts have been really good so that's great. I will have to make sure I start well over there. I need to make sure I keep calm and just do everything I usually do."

The anticipation is even greater for Holman, 17.

He is the youngest by two years in the New Zealand men's team and multiple Tauranga Boys' College record holder.

"I am pretty excited as I have never been anywhere other than Australia to compete. It will be my first major international experience and hopefully not the last either," Holman said.

Holman and Somerfield are both coached by Tauranga-based Athletics New Zealand sprint coach Kerry Hill.

Holman says he has played a major part in his rapid rise to the top of national junior sprinter rankings.

"It has a lot to do with Kerry coaching me as well as he can and peaking us for the right moment in time, especially in Dunedin for the nationals in March."

Holman is aiming to learn as much as he can in Poland with future world champs and Commonwealth Games on his radar.

"Because I am so young I can still go to the next one in 2018 where I will definitely attempt to qualify for the 100 individually and of course for the relay again.

"Commonwealth Games in 2018 is definitely there as well. It would be pretty cool to achieve that."

Holman has a 100m PB of 10.9s and he ran 10.96 this year to beat the record at Tauranga Boys' College set by Charles Baxter in 1999.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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