Rotorua's young athletes beamed with pride at the Colgate Games - and that was during the opening ceremony even before they started reeling in dozens of top placings.

Forty-nine Lake City Athletic Club juniors attended the North Island Colgate Games and many returned to Rotorua with medals hanging proudly around their necks.

The annual event, held in Hamilton at the weekend, is the peak of the athletics season for children aged 7-14. It has been running since 1978 and many of the parents cheering from the sideline competed when they were juniors.

The opening ceremony was one of many highlights for Lake City Athletic Club juniors at the Colgate Games in Hamilton. Photo / Alisha Lovrich
The opening ceremony was one of many highlights for Lake City Athletic Club juniors at the Colgate Games in Hamilton. Photo / Alisha Lovrich

Lake City children's athletics convener Kelly Albrecht was still "buzzing" after what she described as an amazing event.

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"We said to the kids to try to make it to the opening ceremony on the Friday and we had 43 out of 49 there. Just seeing them march out on to the track, waving and smiling, and all the parents feeling that love and pride, the kids looked so proud and chuffed. It all started from there, it was a cool start."

Competition took place on Saturday and Sunday and Albrecht was ecstatic with the results, as well as the attitudes of the children.

"Next thing, Lake City just started reeling in all these placings. We heard from other clubs that it was awesome to see this club, that has hardly made an impact on these events, suddenly doing well, winning medals and getting placings.

"The kids were amazing. When they didn't place, they still came out for the next event and just absolutely put in everything they could to try again. It was such a good learning experience for them all."

The children aged 7-9 compete for straight placings - the winners receive plastic flags, while those aged 10-14 must progress through heats, semifinals and a final if they want to make the podium and claim a medal.

Lake City Athletic Club's Hannah Hickson charges in during the high jump at the Colgate Games. Photo / Alisha Lovrich
Lake City Athletic Club's Hannah Hickson charges in during the high jump at the Colgate Games. Photo / Alisha Lovrich

The club's 7-9-year-olds achieved an impressive 42 placings overall. That included 10 firsts, 17 seconds and 15 thirds.

The 10-14 age group is where things get really competitive and the Lake City youngsters ran, jumped and threw their hearts out to collect seven medals.

Manaia Christiansen claimed gold in the 11-year-old boys' discus and teamed up with Jack Marra, Harrison Beazley, 10, and Cooper Simes to win gold in a thrilling 11-year-old boys' 4x100m relay final.

Silver medals went to Jack Marra in the 11-year-old boys' 200m, Gisele Howard in the 14-year-old girls' long jump and Lillian Muir in the 13-year-old girls' long jump.

Bronze medals were won by speedsters Cooper Simes in the 11-year-old boys' 400m and Hayden Chapman in the 12-year-old boys' 400m.

Albrecht said the support the children gave each other during the event, as well as the support from all the parents in attendance, was second to none and she was sure that atmosphere would encourage the athletes to stay in the sport.

"The best part for me, of the whole experience, was all the families sat together under a couple of tents along the 100m track. Every time a Lake City kid was in a race, the other kids would all jump up out of the tent and yell and scream for their mates.

"When they came back to the tent after an event, everyone would applaud and cheer. The look on the kids' faces was just incredible, they felt really encouraged. It was like a little family and it's exactly what I knew would happen with this group of people."