New Year is a time for not only looking back at a year that has passed, but also a chance to look ahead and, in the process, set some resolutions for the year ahead.
Whanganui athletes had an outstanding 2019 as reported on many occasions through this column. It will not be long until they are back in action for the second half of the season.
The Cooks Classic is only 10 days away on Saturday, January 18 and is the first major North Island event of 2020.
It is a few days earlier than in recent years and falls into Heritage Weekend, adding another attraction to the already exciting weekend. I will preview this meeting next week.
Many athletes will be in action a week later at the Potts Classic in Hastings. The new school year will have hardly started before the Manawatu/Whanganui Centre Championships held over three Tuesdays in February with the two major nights in Whanganui on the 11th and the following week in Palmerston North.
Sandwiched between the two main Centre Championships is the Porritt Classic in Hamilton which has a good combination of school and club events that should attract good Whanganui entries.
The Capital Classic, which has traditionally falls in January, is on Friday, February 28 a week before the New Zealand Championships in Christchurch. Action returns to Cooks Gardens Saturday, March 14 with the Sir Peter Snell meeting which features the return of the Mile Championships as a national event.
Three days later Cooks Gardens hosts the annual Whanganui Secondary Schools Championships from which leading athletes are selected to compete in the North Island Schools in Hamilton in early April.
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Whanganui athletes had an outstanding 2019.
Four Whanganui athletes were in the 24-strong New Zealand Secondary Schools Cross Country Team to Wollongong competing at the Australian Schools Cross Country in August.
At the recent Secondary Schools Track and Field Championships in Wellington athletes from Whanganui Collegiate and Whanganui High School returned with 19 medals, the best ever combined total from Whanganui in the history of the event and on the unofficial points totals for top eight performances finished respectively first and second.
Genna Maples, Sophie Williams and Liam Back were named in the paper team and looking ahead to March, Maggie Jones (High School), Sophie Williams, Maples and Lucas Martin (Collegiate) will travel as part of the 20-strong team representing New Zealand Schools at the Australian Championships in Sydney, while a month later Collegiate athletes George Lambert, Ana Brabyn and Ashleigh Alabaster will travel to Slovakia to run in the ISF World Schools Cross Country.
The New Zealand rankings, so ably compiled by Dr Stephen Hollings, follows world rankings by recording ranked positions through the calendar year, which is of course midway through our season.
Our own club rankings published on our website are taken throughout our season starting in October and running through to the end of April. Such rankings are not only useful for selectors but provide motivation for athletes.
The 2019 Athletics New Zealand rankings featured several Whanganui athletes and I will look at athletes who are in the top five.
Sophie Williams, who sadly has moved to Auckland, topped both the 100m and 200 metre under 18 rankings in the former she set the New Zealand Secondary Schools junior record which has stood since 1973 and in the latter the North Island Schools Intermediate record.
Williams also ran in the Collegiate relay team (Maples, Emma Osborne, Tayla Brunger and Williams) who topped the relay under 18 4 x 100 relay rankings for 2019. Genna Maples was the leading under 18 long jumper and was also 5th in the open women's rankings.
Liam Back topped the under 18 1500 metres, was second in the 800 metres and was third over 3000 metres. Training partner Andres Hernandez led in the under 5000 metres and was second in 1500 metres and steeplechase.
In a year plagued with health issues he illustrated his high potential by winning the New Zealand under-18 6km Road Race, setting a New Zealand record. William Sinclair, now based in the Waikato, was third in the under 20 mile and fourth in 1500 metres.
Tayla Brunger ranked second over 400 metres at under 18 level (team- mate Emma Osborne 6th) and helped her Collegiate 4 x 400 relay team to third in the under 20 rankings.
Race walker Lucas Martin, still only 15, ranked third in both the under-18 3000m track and 5000 metres. Sophie Redmayne ranked 4th in the under-20 400 metre hurdles, a ranking shared by Connor Munro in the under 20 in the same event with Jonathan Maples 5th.
The Athletic Club New Year resolution should be building on our recent success from athletes from Whanganui Collegiate and Whanganui High School and helping build the sport in other schools in the region.