Twin reason for success

By Shane Hurndell


Athletics/Gymnastics

It's no secret ... sporting twins often bring the best out of each other.

Hawke's Bay's most famous rowing exports Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell (now Meyer and Earl respectively), Aussie cricketers Mark and Steve Waugh and 1987 rugby World Cup winners with the All Blacks Gary and Alan Whetton are just three sets who immediately spring to mind. Hawke's Bay sprinter Shannon Gearey and twin brother Joel don't boast the sporting CVs the size of these three sets yet but Shannon was quick to point out the rivalry between her and Joel has been a key to her sporting success to date.

"Joel was born five minutes before me and up until now was always faster. That made me determined to either match him or beat him ... now I think I've got the edge on him," Shannon said as she reflected on her most memorable weekend in sport.

The 15-year-old Napier Girls' High School year 10 student won both the 100 and 200 metres senior women's sprint titles at the Palmerston North-hosted Regional League athletics meeting on Saturday. Her respective times of 12.25s and 25.82s are personal bests.

Shannon's 100m time is the fastest recorded in the country to date this season and gives her a seeding of second in the country for under-17 girls. Waikato's Molly Florence has the fastest time of 12.18s which was recorded last year.

Florence is two years older than Shannon. In Saturday's events Shannon beat Taranaki's Zoe Hobbs who prior to the weekend was the top ranked under-15 girls sprinter in the country and a fortnight earlier had won both titles at the Wanganui League meet.

"Zoe has always been so fast and it has been my dream to beat her. She shook my hand after both races ... I know she will be training harder now," Shannon said.

In addition to her sibling rivalry Shannon pointed out there are several other factors which have contributed to her sporting successes over the years.

"It's in my genes ... Mum [Evelyn] was good at sport but not outstanding and like Joel, Dad [Ian] enjoys soccer," she explained.

Shannon is full of praise for the coaching she has received from sprint coach Mick Cull for six months and the encouragement she receives from fellow members of Cull's squad.

A Hastings Athletics Club member, Shannon, has entered all three sprint events, 100, 200 and 400, for next month's national track and field championships in Dunedin but has yet to declare which one she will tackle because the condensed nature of the programme will only allow her to do one.

"I will probably do the 400 metres as that is likely to be my best chance of a title in the under-16 grade," Shannon said.

At the January 19 Sylvia Potts Memorial Classic meeting in Hastings Shannon will start in all three events. Her long-term goals are the Youth Olympics and world championship events.

The sprint double wasn't her only sporting success at the weekend.

She was also named senior female gymnast of the year at the Omni Gymnastic Centre's end-of-year prizegiving which doubled as the club's 30th birthday celebrations.

Because of her gymnastics and track sprinting commitments Shannon won't be part of the successful Ocean Beach Kiwi Surf Lifesaving Club's beach sprint team this summer. Last summer she won three silver medals when representing the club at the national championships.

"I've got too much on my plate with the track sprinting and the gymnastics," Shannon said.

Her best placing at last month's Blenheim-hosted national gymnastics championships was a fourth in the vault in step eight.

"I want to improve on that placing and also in my other disciplines when the nationals are staged here in Hawke's Bay next year," Shannon said.

She pointed out plenty of food - "lots of curry and chocolate in particular" - is another secret to her success.

With four nights a week training for athletics and the other three for gymnastics it isn't surprising she needs massive amounts of fuel.

"I also don't run without my lucky silver bracelet," she added before heading off to another training session.

More than 1000 gymnasts from throughout Australasia will compete in GymSports New Zealand's national championships at Taradale's Pettigrew-Green Arena during October next year. Aerobics, rhythmic gymnastics, trampolining, tumbling and men's and women's artistic gymnastics will be included.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n2 at 01 Aug 2014 11:41:31 Processing Time: 640ms