The Colgate Games are more than just an athletics competition.
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They are an opportunity for athletes aged 7-14 to test themselves against their peers, bond with their clubmates and create lasting memories in the sport.
Lake City Athletic Club juniors experienced that firsthand at the weekend when 47 of them competed at the North Island Colgate games in Inglewood, Taranaki.
Lake City children's convenor Kelly Albrecht said the weekend had left her speechless.
While the 7-9-year-olds competed in standalone heats and brought home dozens of pennants for their efforts, the 10-14-year-olds were able to test themselves at the next level - competing in heats, semifinals and finals with medals on the line.
"It was a massive weekend, it was awesome. We definitely came home with more medals than last year."
The standout for Lake City was Jack Marra in the 12-year-old boys' division. He claimed gold in the 200m and 400m, silver in the 100m. He also teamed up with Kobe Stranks-Rose, Harrison Roberts-Brake and Cooper Simes to win gold in the 12-year-old boys' 4x100m relay for the second year running.
Te Pumanawa o Toku Ate Rogers took bronze in the 12-year-old girls' long jump. Corbin Smith got silver in the 10-year-old boys' high jump and Tamarau Haimona bronze in the 11-year-old boys' discus.
4x100m 12 Boys Relay
We have just finished up at the North Island Colgate Games, and we have so many amazing results to share with you all. But just a little snippet, from about 15mins ago, our 12 year old boys 4x100m relay team defended their Gold medal win from last year with ANOTHER solid Gold Medal finish with a time of 54.80 seconds. Watch the video, you can feel the excitement! (lane 2) Congratulations to: Kobe Stranks-Rose Jack Marra Harrison Roberts-Brake Cooper Simes Watch this space for the other fantastic achievements.Posted by Lake City Athletic Club on Saturday, 11 January 2020
Milan Stephens, Dominic Dube, Taylor Beazley and Corbin Smith claimed gold in the 10-year-old boys' 4x100m relay. Milan, Dominic, Kingston Ryan, Tyla Albrecht and Raumati Stephens finished second in the 10-year-old mixed medley relay.
48 Lake City kids set for Colgate Games
Realising potential: One step at a time
Another medal rush for Lake City Athletic
"A medal at the Colgate Games is next level, it means you're the top in the North Island, you're pretty incredible. It's a massive achievement. For a kid to make a semi and a final is next level and in some races we had three of our kids in one age group in a semifinal and a final. It's incredible to see.
"The 7-9-year-olds do heats in divisions and get placings in that one race. I'm still doing a tally now but I wouldn't be surprised if it was close to 100 pennants."
Albrecht said the event made the kids "feel like they were at the Olympics" with an opening ceremony on the Friday night and their names announced over the loudspeaker as they lined up for finals.
"I'm kind of speechless, there's no real word to describe this weekend. We had 47 kids with all their parents and siblings and now we have some of those siblings wanting to sign up [for athletics] as well. They've watched their big brothers or big sisters compete and now they want to be involved.
"I watched parents make new friendships, the kids hung out together and there's the sportsmanship that we don't specifically teach but just came about on the day. Kids were high fiving other club members, hugging each other when they finished their races - the whole camaraderie and atmosphere was amazing. We didn't want it to end."
She said the children who attended would now be more motivated than ever.
"The Colgate Games are halfway through the season so we now turn our focus to the Waikato Champs in March. Everyone knows where they're at and what they have to work towards.
"They also become such a tight-knit group as well. We had some kids new to the athletics scene but during the weekend they were all hanging out so when they get back to club nights the motivation is high but they're also all talking to each other, it's inclusive.
"A lot of goals will be set and a lot of people will be very motivated for those Waikato Champs."