College Sport: Alex coming along in leaps and bounds

By Campbell Burnes

The heptathlon combines Onehunga student's favoured events.
Alex Hyland prepares for a big finish to her summer programme. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Alex Hyland prepares for a big finish to her summer programme. Photo / Jason Oxenham

A big athletics summer for Alex Hyland is drawing to a close. The 17-year-old Onehunga High School Year 13 student is combining her strong leaping and jumping ability to stand out in the heptathlon, among several other disciplines.

Next week she will compete in the Auckland schools Champion of Champion event at Mt Smart and the following week will take part in the North Island schools championships.

Winter will see her in the Onehunga girls' first XI football side before she resets her sights on an important athletics finish to 2016.

Hyland won the under-18 women's 100m hurdles at the national track and field champs in Dunedin this month with a PB of 14.26s and also took gold in the under-20 high jump and silver in the under-18 high jump. She also ran the 200m.

High jump is her favoured event, as she has done this the longest. She works under coach Brent Booker.

So far the focus has been on technique and form as opposed to strength but she will be hitting the weights in earnest in the not too distant future.

At the 2014 schools athletics nationals, she claimed the junior high jump title and was runner-up in the 2015 event in the seniors. Going one better is a powerful driving force later in the year.

With long levers and just on 1.8m tall, Hyland has almost a pole vaulter's build (think Eliza McCartney). It is ideal for jumping or leaping, hence she also enjoys the hurdles.

"I really enjoy jumping, so the hurdles is combining running and jumping," she said. "The 100m does not really suit me with my long legs. It takes a while to get up to speed."

It follows, therefore, that there are three events she struggles with at times in heptathlon: the javelin, shot put and 800m.

So you might think she would spend much of her time working on her weaker events.

Not quite. Hyland and her coach appear to follow the Wayne Smith mantra of continually working on strengths, the aim being to dominate in her strong suits of the high jump, long jump, 100m hurdles and 200m, and do her best in the weaker three. It seems to be working. Specialised training is twice a week.

Campbell BurnesThe 100m does not really suit me with my long legs. It takes a while to get up to speed.
Alex Hyland

The heptathlon is not contested at schools level, so Hyland represents the ACA club in this event. Last month she won the under-18 title in Whanganui.

She will have to wait until November's North Island championships in Hastings for another crack at this event and freely admits there is work to do before she can rival the country's top heptathletes, Portia Bing and Veronica Torr.

Next year she is unsure whether she will push on with the heptathlon but, as she eyes up the 2018 world junior championships or even the Commonwealth Games, she will be looking to leap higher and jump further.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 05 Dec 2016 06:38:20 Processing Time: 722ms