Tauranga Intermediate's Renee Carey crossed the finish line of her cross country race visibly exhausted and feeling light-headed, securing her school's first gold medal of the 2018 Anchor AIMS Games shortly after 10am on Sunday.
There was no doubt the 11-year-old gave absolutely everything she had in her to take the win of one of the first events of the games - the Year 7 Girls' Cross Country race at Waipuna Park yesterday morning - providing a great start for not only her school but Tauranga overall.
She really wanted to break the record held for her age group of 11m 24s, a time she was just one second short of at the Bay of Plenty-Poverty Bay Intermediate Schools Cross Country event last month, but the strong headwinds she battled on the course made it near impossible to do yesterday morning.
She finished in a time of 11m 43.6s, well ahead of her closest challengers. Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School students Hayley Cornwall and Lucy McLean finished second with times of 11m 53.54s and 11m 54.38s respectively.
The trio were three of 827 runners who competed in the cross country races on Sunday - one of three codes including sailing and gymnastics which got the week's AIMS Games sporting action under way.
Carey finished her race feeling "like I was going to faint" because she admittedly ran so hard, with one of the only things on her mind at the end of it being wanting "to go lie down".
She was given some chocolate milk for recovery after her race, which helped pick up her spirits, and said she was "really stoked" to have won.
Before the race, she said her coaches helped her with her race strategy - to get a lead in the first few seconds - before taking things pretty steady until the part of the track she calls "the woodpark", where she would pick up her race pace.
Carey was training with the Tauranga Ramblers in the lead-up to her race, getting a good night's sleep and eating anything and everything - her food of choice being burgers in general. She was even planning to convince her parents to call into Burger Fuel on the way home as an after-race treat.
Despite her cross country racing coming to an end, Carey will now gear up for her other codes including hockey and multisport mid-week.
Tauranga Intermediate principal and Anchor AIMS Games chairman Brian Diver was "very proud" of Carey, whom he described as a great all-rounder at school, and said having the first win of the cross country come from his school was "special".
"I'm just so delighted to see so many competitors," Diver said.
There are 22 different codes being played throughout the week as part of the 15th Anchor AIMS Games, until September 14.
A total of 10,800 young athletes representing 326 schools are taking part, coming from around New Zealand, Australia, Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands to be part of New Zealand's biggest sporting tournament.
Full sporting results can be found at www.nzaimsgames.co.nz
Cross Country Results:
Year 7 Girls:
1st Renee Carey, Tauranga Intermediate 11:43.60
2nd Hayley Cornwall, Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School 11:53.54
3rd Lucy McLean, Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School 11:54.38
Year 7 Boys:
1st Brock Ironside, Highlands Intermediate 10:50.71
2nd Dylan Kowalewski, Stratford 10:51.10
3rd Sean Collins, Mount Maunganui Intermediate 10:52.42
Year 8 Girls:
1st Bella Earl, Parua Bay 11:06.02
2nd Lulu Johnson, Otumoetai Intermediate 11:20.93
3rd Olivia Hala, Mount Maunganui Intermediate 11:21.63
Year 8 Boys:
1st Jack Hunter, Masterton Intermediate 10:13.92
2nd Callum Murray, St Joseph's (Fairfield) 10:22.73
3rd Connor Stewart, Breens Intermediate 10:33.51