Rower scoops up top sports award again

By Shane Hurndell

Napier Boys' High School's Thomas Jenkins became the third rower in four years to win the Hawke's Bay Secondary Schools Sportsperson of the Year Award last night.

Unlike the previous two rowers who have won the award, including 2009 winner Giacomo Thomas, Jenkins, 18, has yet to decide what he is doing next year at this stage in his career but said attending Unitech in Auckland was an option. In fact, Jenkins was reluctant at first to attend last night's awards as a nominee in the individual section as he pointed out he wouldn't have been able to have the success he had without teammates.

"That's why I decided to come in the end ... to thank everyone who has supported me including teammates and, of course, Mum and Dad," Jenkins said after the awards.

Earlier in the evening Jenkins won the Male award and he was the hot favourite for the premier award after being a member of the New Zealand junior men's coxed four which won gold at the August world championships in Bulgaria. He is the first athlete in the eight-year history of the awards to win three categories in one year.

Before collecting his Male award Jenkins and his NBHS under-18 pair teammate, Andrew Potter, the 2011 winner of the Premier and Male awards, won the Team award.

This pair, who will compete at next year's Youth Olympics in Sydney, won the New Zealand Secondary Schools title, the North Island Secondary Schools title and were fourth in the under-21 section of the national championships.

Karamu High School's Aimee Fisher, who is a national champion in canoe racing, surf lifesaving and canoe polo, took home the Female award in the wake of her canoe racing successes on the international stage. At the March Oceania championships Fisher won three junior women's golds and at the Czech Republic championships she won five golds.

Orienteering guru Derek Morrison who coaches the Napier Girls' High School and Napier Boys' High School teams took home the Coach award for the second consecutive year. This year Morrison coached the NZ Secondary Schools team in Australia for the 10th year and the NGHS and NBHS teams to national titles. World champion adventure racer Nathan Fa'ave of Nelson was last night's guest speaker. The father-of-three was impressed with the talent among the 98 nominations at the Napier Municipal Theatre-hosted function.

"There are definitely future Olympians in this room," Fa'ave said.

The Sport NZ ambassador, who has also represented New Zealand in mountain biking and orienteering, said one of the reasons he has been successful is his ability to take major risks.

"You learn not to have much fear. You learn to be comfortable by not being vulnerable."

"Sports people have got to push themselves to the limits and not give up," Fa'ave said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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