Taradale Intermediate School hockey player Connor Harvey admitted he was a little apprehensive as his team travelled to the recent AIMS Games in Tauranga.
"While I had faith we could go back-to-back I didn't know what the other teams would turn up with," Harvey recalled.
The Year 8 student should not have worried. His mixed team, which included two players from last year's winning team, himself and captain Henni Nation, won a second consecutive title with an 8-3 win against Auckland's Bucklands Beach Intermediate in the final.
Their side won all six of their games and centre forward Harvey scored 16 goals for the team, which was coached by successful Hawke's Bay age group team coach Simon Nation and Mandy Barber. A member of the Hawke's Bay Hatch Cup under-13 boys team this season, Harvey, pointed out the Taradale Intermediate team had tremendous support in Tauranga.
"Lots of parents made the trip to Tauranga once they learnt we had qualified for the final. That's a three-and-a-half hour trip both ways which was awesome by them and our futsal team got behind us too which was great," Harvey explained.
While the final was being played more than 400 students packed the school's hall to watch livestream coverage of the match. Prior to the two golds Taradale Intermediate won silver and bronze medals in this grade and recorded a fourth placing.
"It's the fifth year in the 15-year history of the Games six-a-side hockey had been played. It's becoming more and more popular because 11-a-side teams are struggling to find accommodation," Taradale Intermediate School sports co-ordinator Kirsten Demanser-Wilson said.
Taradale Intermediate School had 74 athletes at the Games competing in 12 of the 23 codes. They won the top school title on the nation wide points table.
"This is an outstanding feat as this slot is normally taken out by a Bay of Plenty or Auckland school as they traditionally have huge numbers at the Games," Demanser-Wilson explained.
Her contingent travelled home with three top school trophies, 13 gold medals, 10 silver and six bronze. Maddie Turner won a gold medal in Gymsport's tumbling event and Taradale Intermediate School's 11 athletes in canoe sprint and canoe slalom events were dominant.
Demanser-Wilson pointed out eight team medals and 19 individual medals were won by the school's canoe sprint and canoe slalom athletes.
Other highlights for Hawke's Bay included the Heretaunga Intermediate School's boys basketball team winning silver and St Patrick's School swimmer Lola Nicholls winning five medals, two golds and three silvers. Competing in the 11-year-old girls age group Nicholls won gold in the 100 metres fly and 200 metres individual medley.
Her silvers were won in the 100 and 50 metres freestyle and 50 metres fly. Nicholls also finished fourth in the 100 metres individual medley and she recorded personal best times in all six of her events.
She was one of eight swimmers from the Napier Aquahawks club in action at the Games. They won a total of four golds, four silvers and three bronze medals and qualified for 16 finals.
All eight recorded personal best times which was a tribute to the work Aquahawks head coach Phil Melhuish put into them.
Tamatea Intermediate School's Kate Hurley won gold in the 200 and 50 metres breaststroke events for 11-year-old girls. She also won silver in the 100 metres breaststroke and recorded fourth placings in her 100 metres freestyle and 200 metres individual medley and freestyle events. Hurley also recorded personal best times in all six of her events.
Woodford House 12-year-old Evie Skidmore captured bronze medals in her 200 metre backstroke and individual medley finals. She also recorded fourth placings in her 100 metre backstroke and individual medley finals and registered personal best times in all four of her events.
Havelock North Intermediate's Jess Mills won bronze in her 12-year-old girls 50 metres breaststroke final. She also recorded fourth placings in her 200 and 100 metres breaststroke finals, both in personal best times.
The 15th annual AIMS Games attracted more than 11,500 competitors from more than 365 schools throughout New Zealand, Asia and the Pacific.