Rotorua athletics is in the midst of a revival.

Junior numbers are the highest they have been in years with 300 children signed up for the Lake City Athletics club nights and at the weekend, 21 young athletes competed at the Cambridge Pentathlon Day, five of whom won medals.

Kelly Albrecht took over as Lake City children's athletics convener at the start of the season and has put her own background as an athlete, her education in sport and a whole lot of volunteered time into ensuring hundreds of Rotorua children have the opportunity to take part.

In Cambridge on Saturday, Gisele Howard won gold in the 14-year-old girls' pentathlon, Cooper Simes won gold in the 11-year-old boys', Cruze Conroy was third in the 9-year-old boys', Connor Beazley third in the 8-year-old boys' and Amber Albrecht third in the 7-year-old girls'.


"It was a horrendous day weather-wise, it was totally wet, but the kids didn't even blink an eye. They were in the pouring rain waiting for races to start, it was really cool to see them dig in and put heaps of effort in," Albrecht said.

Those competing were part of the development squad she started this year for children who had shown they had the potential and desire to compete.

"We've taken them on board to try to increase that talent and skill level, giving them some proper technique coaching and training. We've got the Colgate Games in Hamilton in January, which is basically the children's Olympics, so that's the big one we're aiming for.

"It's good for them to compete at these other events and see the competition that's out there and the professionalism of an event - how the races start and how to avoid being disqualified. We're taking 49 children over to the Colgate Games next year."

The Lake City Athletics club nights are an opportunity for young children to get a taste of the sport in a fun environment. Photo / Ben Fraser
The Lake City Athletics club nights are an opportunity for young children to get a taste of the sport in a fun environment. Photo / Ben Fraser

Albrecht said it was rewarding seeing children improve and become more confident with athletics.

"Seeing them go from being an average runner to developing the skill and technique, seeing the big smile on their face as they do better. Seeing the child shape themselves into an athlete is what pushes me into wanting to do this. Also getting that big, friendly environment at the club is really neat.

"This is coming together in an individual performance, but they're still competing as a club, they still have teammates and they have to put themselves out there. It's that confidence in pushing yourself."

Club nights were aimed at developing basic skills in running, jumping and throwing.

"They get to do some running races, jumping games, the younger kids walk along beams and throw balls into hoops. It's about getting out there and having some fun.

"It also involves them having some fun with their parents as well. A lot of sports the parents drop the kids off and leave, but we encourage them to stay and be involved.

"With the older kids it's basically the same but a more defined, enhancing those skills they learned in the littlies area," she said.