College Sport: A teenager of many talents

By Campbell Burnes

Takapuna Grammar's Katherine Badham is a multi-talented multisporter. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Takapuna Grammar's Katherine Badham is a multi-talented multisporter. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Katherine Badham is an athlete with allround ability, but triathlon is where she feels her future lies.

The 18-year-old Takapuna Grammar School student is in the Triathlon New Zealand national talent squad and in the Pathway to Podium for High Performance Sport New Zealand. Badham is, in essence, the top girls under-19 competitor in the country, not to mention a four-time New Zealand schools duathlon champion, the reigning senior schoolgirls' triathlon national champion, plus the Auckland schoolgirls' cross-country champion for good measure.

On Sunday she races in the New Zealand and Oceania cross-country championships at the Auckland Domain and on August 14 will attempt to defend her national schools duathlon title in Pukekohe.

But her major focus is next month's ITU world elite championships in Mexico.

"We leave on August 21 and have a five-week training camp on the Gold Coast and then Florida, so we should be well acclimatised," says Badham.

She already has experience of this event, having competed in Chicago last year.

"I'm really still just beginning my triathlon journey, so I want to take my opportunity and gain experience. Next year will be my last year in juniors."

Most triathletes come from a cycling or running background, but Badham was a gymnast and hockey player who excelled as a cycling time trialist.

Swimming is the weakest of her three triathlon disciplines and running her forte, but she is working hard on redressing that imbalance under coach and former Olympian Nathan Richmond.

"I'm quite excited for the time when my swimming does click, because I know I'll be a lot closer to the front of the pack by the end of the bike," Badham says. As it stands, she has to play catch-up after the 750m swim before hitting the 20km bike ride, but she invariably makes up huge ground on the 5km run to finish.

"Swimming is the focus but, in the triathlon, your running is how you win a race or not."

Badham trains hard (about 20 hours a week) but does not flog herself, especially with a senior year at school to contend with, but she is getting on top of her time management.

"I've definitely got a lot better this year. I've only got about four weeks left [of school], as I go away soon. I try to get as much done at school as possible at lunch or in study periods.

"All the teachers are really supportive, so I'm grateful they allow me to have time off and then catch up. Some schools get iffy with it."

She has her eye on the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and then perhaps the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

"I think Gold Coast, maybe not for the individual event, but for the mixed team relay. Tokyo is a goal, but I still need to go up a distance into the standard. I'm not sure how realistic that is until I go at the [longer] distance."

Jim Lonergan will succeed Dave Currie as College Sport chief executive in term four.

Lonergan is currently the deputy principal of Macleans College and has experience in both educational and sport administration leadership over the last 20 years, having been the recipient of two Woolf Fisher Fellowship awards.

He is the deputy chairman of the New Zealand Schools Rugby Union and was previously the chairman of the Auckland Secondary Schools Rugby Union.

- NZ Herald

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