Every year, Rotorua sportspeople punch above their weight and 2019 was no different. You get the feeling many of them are only just getting started. Here are sports reporter David Beck's 10 local individuals to keep an eye on in 2020.
Tukimihia Simpkins (Rugby League)
Tukimihia spent three years on a junior contract with the North Queensland Cowboys during which he would train with them in summer. In 2019, he made the next step and signed a professional NRL contract. Rated by Cowboys scouts as one of the most exciting talents they have recruited in recent years, Simpkins has the raw potential to become one of the best.
Tayla Earle (Netball)
Earle made this list last year as an exciting young talent who had signed with ANZ Premiership team the Northern Mystics straight out of high school. She continued to progress throughout 2019, earning a regular place in the team and at the New Zealand Netball Awards she was named Special K Aspiring Silver Fern.
Sarah Walker (BMX)
It feels like a long time since Walker won silver at the London Olympics in 2012, a horror run of injuries leaving many to wonder what could've been. However, the girl from Kawerau is no quitter and has been travelling the world collecting Olympic qualification points throughout 2019. A place at Tokyo 2020 is a very real possibility and one few would argue Walker deserves.
Lisa Adams (Shot Put)
19 will be hard to beat for Lisa Adams but with the trajectory the para athlete is on, her potential seems limitless. She broke the women's para shot put world record in March and again in November when she claimed gold at the world championships. Next on the to-do list? The 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo.
Mahina Paul (Rugby Sevens)
At just 17, Whakatāne's Mahina Paul signed a contract with the Black Ferns Sevens at the start of 2019. At no stage has she seemed daunted by playing for the world champions and in November she made her debut in the black jersey at the Oceania Sevens competition in Fiji. With a full year of learning from the best players in the world under her belt, the world is her oyster in 2020.
Leo English (Swimming)
The youngest on our list, Te Arawa swimmer Leo English has achieved more in his 10 years than most people do in a lifetime. In June, he beat the Bay of Plenty record for 9-year-old boys in the 800m freestyle and in October he was at it again, beating the 10-year-old boys' 800m and 1500m freestyle records.
Ceiza James (Rugby League)
Rotorua Boys' High School is quickly becoming a talent factory for NRL sides. James signed a professional contract with the Wests Tigers for 2020-21 during which time he will play for the under-20 side with hopes of making the first team. Blessed with elusiveness and x-factor, he could well become a destructive attacking weapon.
Megan Williams (BMX)
Megan is the second BMXer on the list but unlike Walker is only just getting started. In 2019, the 15-year-old won her sixth national title and finished third in the 15-year girls' Challenge class at the BMX World Championships in Belgium. With the Rotorua BMX Club's elite new track complete, she has all the tools needed for further success.
Maylene Meroiti - A coach with a passion
Yeehaw! How Tukimihia Simpkins became a Cowboy
Leo English: The swimmer who broke a 19-year record held by Olympian
Kyra Mita (Waka Ama and Rafting)
Mita represented her country in not one but two sports in 2019. In May, she and her under-23 teammates claimed silver at the World Rafting Championships and in August she represented New Zealand at the Waka Ama World Distance Championships. One thing is for sure, give her a paddle and she will excel.
Tuhoto-Ariki Pene (Mountain Biking)
Tuhoto-Ariki made waves on the international mountain biking scene in 2019. He achieved a downhill gold and silver at world cup events in Italy and Switzerland respectively before taking on the Downhill mountain Bike World Championship in Canada. He claimed third in the junior male downhill, becoming the first Kiwi to finish on a world championship podium since Brook MacDonald a decade ago.