In a week's time, Kayli Tuiraviravi will run the most important 200m race of her young career.

The 15-year-old will line up for New Zealand at the Youth Olympics trials in Vanuatu with a place at the main event in Buenos Aires in October up for grabs.

The Tauranga Girls' College Year 11 student is the youngest in the New Zealand team of 11 boys and 11 girls to contest the trials.

Although a combination of running and field events in the heptathlon is her favourite competition format, she has focused on the 200m over the summer with the Youth Olympics in mind.


"This is one of the best opportunities I have got so far. I think it is a really good experience and one I am really going to enjoy. It certainly will be really challenging, but I am going to like it," she said.

"It is a different experience with new people to race in a different environment to what I am used to."

Tuiraviravi knows to make the start line in Buenos Aries she needs to win her 200m final. There is a chance second, or third-placed runners could make it depending on times, but she is not prepared to take that chance.

"There is only one person per race representing New Zealand, so this is my opportunity. It is exciting."

It has been a good summer on the track for Tuiraviravi with some consistently good form shown.

"I peaked at the New Zealand Secondary Schools [under-15s] in December. That was really good. I have been training for the last couple of months just specifically for 200 after training for heptathlon at the start and middle of last year.

"I have dropped [heptathlon] to train for Vanuatu and then will pick it up again afterwards. The field events are so much fun."

Despite her focus being on qualifying in Vanuatu, it has not been easy to forget about the end goal of making the Youth Olympics finals in Argentina.


"I think it would be so amazing to see the future Olympians, the people who might be the new Usain Bolt or someone like that," Tuiraviravi said.

"It is pretty amazing thinking about it. You are going to see when they first started their career."

Tuiraviravi has no idea who she will be up against at the trials in Vanuatu which she thinks may be a good thing.

"Anything could happen. You might surprise yourself, or it might be disappointing, but you are just going into it with no expectations, just trying to do everything your best and getting that PB [personal best].

"If it goes well it will really boost my confidence with my running, and knowing that I can have a strong future in athletics, but it also just makes you that much better for the heptathlon."

Tuiraviravi has managed to shave half a second off her PB for the 200m over the last season under the mentoring of Tauranga's internationally renowned sprint coach Kerry Hill.

"He has been very important," she said. "He has specialised programmes just for me with my hockey as well. He has seen my weaknesses and my strengths, and he has built me up to be a lot better.

"I have improved a lot over the last season because of him."