Hawke's Bay sprinter Georgia Hulls is basking in a bronze glow after the last day of athletics events at the World University Games in Italy today.

Hulls, competing in her first university games in Napoli, claimed the honour as a member of the New Zealand 4 x 100m relay team with Olivia Eaton, Zoe Hobbs and Natasha Eady.

The 19-year-old from Hastings anchored the third leg, taking on Switzerland sprinter Ayla Del Ponte who had clinched a silver medal in the individual 100m event.

Hulls is a former Havelock North High School pupil who is in her first-year of an accounting degree in a five-year tertiary stint through Massey University's Academy of Sport in Auckland.


The Kiwi quartet's first remark, according to an Athletics NZ: "Feeling pretty knackered, aye."

The atmosphere was electric as first-timer Eady stormed across the finish line securing a 0.6-second margin between her and fourth place. The New Zealanders also smashed the 18-year-old New Zealand 4x100m record by more than 0.4s.

"It's pretty unreal. We didn't know that we could win a medal until we ran the heats yesterday and that's when we realised how capable we were," Eaton said.

Hobbs, a seasoned international competitor who is Hulls' training partner, added that their success comes down to "experience. We haven't done a relay together in a long time. And you need experiences like this to be able to perform at this level".

Eaton acknowledged "there's such a depth of sprinting in New Zealand. Hopefully this is just the start of something big".

"Now that we have performed on the world stage and shown that we can mix it with these bigger countries," she said.

Sprint coach Elena Brown had believed in the girls from day one.

"This was not an overnight success. They have been training for an event like this for several years. This is a world-class competition, the pressure is huge, the experience is amazing and these girls should be proud of themselves," Brown said.


Chef de mission Evelyn Williamson echoed similar sentiments, saying the result was in the making since they had competed at the Junior World Championship.

"Athletics NZ have targeted them within the programme and it shows that hard work and focus pay off. People probably don't normally count New Zealand as relay team threat but tonight our 4 x 100 girls showed that could be changing," Williamson said.

Eady agreed, saying it just showed how much New Zealand had to offer and how much further they could go.

Gold next time? If so what will it take?

Brown said: "This time we wanted to make solid and safe baton changes instead of perfect changes and that makes a huge difference to the finishing time. It just means that we have so much room to improve and do even bigger, better things."

The sprinters thanked their wider squad and stable of coaches which includes Brianna Stephenson, a former Napier Girls' High School pupil now based in Auckland, Brooke Somerfield, Brown, Scott Newman, Terry Lomax and James Mortimer as well as UTSNZ, family and friends.

"We're really lucky we have a talented wider squad here and back at home. It's so much more than just the four of us," Brown said.

Brunner, Arnott, Wardell and Hunt held the previous NZ record set in 2001.

A Hastings Athletics Club member, Hulls belongs to the New Zealand Oceania squad. Her next step will perhaps be the 18th edition of the IAAF World Championship to be held in Eugene, Oregon, in the United States, in 2021.

The university games is a major international sporting event that is held every two years for tertiary students from around the world.

This year more than 9000 athletes from 112 countries competed in Naples, also known as the Summer Universiade.