Some coaches prefer their athletes to do what they say while others like their athletes to do what they say and do.
Hawke's Bay surf life saving coach Greg Larsen falls into the latter category and gets a buzz out of watching his Ocean Beach Kiwi beach sprinters try to match his feats. It doesn't happen often but it did at last weekend's national championships in Gisborne.
Within two days of Larsen, 68, winning three gold medals and a silver in his 65-69 years age group Lindisfarne College year 12 student Reece Akuhata, 16, repeated the feat. He won the under-16 beach sprint title, which one of his clubmates Josh Lee, won last year, was a member of the winning under-19 and under-16 beach relay teams and finished with a silver in the under-16 beach flags.
"It was good to match the coach," Akuhata said.
"Obviously it would have been good to get gold in the beach flags. I had beaten the winner at the Eastern Regionals and he and 41 others were out to get me ... it was pretty close at the end," Akuhata recalled.
In the wake of his success, Akuhata, who won six golds and a silver at the Hawke's Bay champs last month, was selected in the New Zealand Youth squad. There are 26 athletes in the squad and, from them, 12 will be selected for an international event in Japan in June and another one in Adelaide in November.
"It's going to be tough to make either of the trips and I'm just happy to be a contender," Akuhata said.
A second-season lifeguard, Akuhata, attributed his and his fellow relay team members success to the work Larsen and his assistant Kerry Lewis put into the team.
"We were all committed to the trainings and it paid off."
Larsen has coached Magpies speedsters Jonah Lowe and Sam McNicol at beach sprinting and he said Akuhata is faster than what both of them were at the same age.
"I have no doubt Reece will end up playing as a winger for the Magpies," Larsen said.
"It would be good to play for the Magpies but I'm focusing on a career in architecture when I leave school and if any professional sporting opportunities came along I would consider them a bonus," Akuhata, who boasts the nickname "Wheels" for obvious reasons, said.
OBK's beach sprinters were prominent in the club's 13th placing with 24 points in Gisborne. OBK was the best of the Bay clubs.
Akuhata won two golds and a silver at the January Central Region champs in New Plymouth and three golds and a bronze at the January Eastern Regionals in Mount Maunganui.
At the recent East Coast secondary school athletics championships Akuhata won the senior boys 110m hurdles in 16.77s and the long jump with a 5.85m leap. He finished third in the 100m final and was a member of the third placed 4x100m relay team.
Akuhata will compete in the same events at the Whanganui-hosted North Island Secondary School champs from April 6-8.
"I hope to podium in all of the events and because I'm eligible for them again next year that will be when I aim for gold," Akuhata said.
At his school's athletics champs earlier this month Akuhata collected five first placings and two seconds. His winning 100m time of 11.18s was a personal best.
"Mason [Magpies winger Emerson] holds the school record of 10.98s which he set in 2012. I'm hoping to better it next year,"Akuhata said.
On April 10 Akuhata will travel to Nepal on a school trip where trapping expeditions will be undertaken and clothing and sports equipment will be distributed.
A second-season player in the school's 1st XV rugby side, Akuhata, will travel to the United Kingdom with the team in October. The team has already started pre-season games.
Because of the United Kingdom trip Akuhata, a former Hawke's Bay Ross Shield, under-14 and under-16 rugby rep, won't be chasing any rep rugby this season.
"Next year the goal will be to make the Hawke's Bay under-19s," he said.
Akuhata is grateful for the input of all his coaches he has had over the years as well as the support from parents Rachel, who is a former New South Wales softball rep, and Andrew, a Te Aute College product, who played premier rugby league for Petone and still plays golden oldies rugby for Taradale.