Winning is a good habit to get into and while athletes learn more from defeat than victory the latter gives considerable growth of belief and self-confidence.
Tayla Brunger, now in the last week of a tour to California, continues to perform with distinction. At the weekend at Long Beach she won both the 800m and 100m with personal best times (2:17 4 and 12.19 respectively). The latter was her 10th win in her last 11 starts.
In my two-part review of the season past I will return to our winners next week, but for now I will focus on our young athletes who have featured significantly on the New Zealand rankings. Many highly ranked athletes have won major titles, but the rankings consider performances at all meetings not just championships.
We are indeed fortunate to have truly world class ranking tables that were set up by Dr Stephen Hollings and former international javelin thrower Gavin Lovegrove and administered by Dr Hollings.
The tables not only rank our top athletes in three International Grades (Senior, Under 20 and Under 18) but also gives profiles of athletes listing progressions and ranks their performances over many years.
This is an invaluable tool for all who are interested in the sport and especially valuable for national selectors. It also provides interest and motivation for athletes.
To fit IAAF format and grades rankings are taken over a calendar year with ages taken from the end of the competition year. This is of course mid-season for southern hemisphere athletes who may change grade during the year depending on their date of birth. In my consideration of Whanganui athletes, I have looked back to the start of the season and noted performances between October 2018 and this April.
Liam Back tops the New Zealand under 18 rankings in both 800m and 1500m (1:56.15 and3:56.83). Back is also second in the 3000m rankings.
Interestingly, Karl Loebe, who is on a student exchange at Whanganui High School, would have ranked second in the 800m (1; 57.10).
Back's training partner Andres Hernandez is second in both the 1500m and 800m and heads the 5000m rankings and his Whanganui Schools win in the 2000m Steeples puts him on the top of the under 18 rankings. Zach Bellamy slips into 9th in the 1500m rankings.
Travis Bayler moved up to the under 20 grade in January and stepped up from 400m to 800m with some success as a first year in the tough under 20 grade. His 1:56.14 places him 7th ahead of Joseph Sinclair, also a first year under 20. Sinclair's time of 1:54.14 in December would have placed him fourth if rankings were over the New Zealand season.
Rebecca Baker ranked second over 1500m in 2018 with her run back in April last year. Baker's performance at NZ Schools in December would have ranked her third equal this season although she is 13th this calendar year. She is ranked second in the 3000m this year but in fact ran faster in December when winning a medal at New Zealand Schools. Sickness at North Island meant she did not have the opportunity to improve on this.
Fourteen-year-old Sophie Williams tops both the 100m and 200m at under 18 level (11.86 and 24.25) and is 8th in the open women's rankings.
Williams has Whanganui company in both events. Genna Maples is ranked second equal over 100m with Tayla Brunger and in 200m Maples is second with Brunger moving up to 5th following her run in California. Brunger currently ranks third over 400m with an opportunity to make upward progress this weekend.
New Zealand under 18 champion Emma Osborne ranks 4th over 400m but injury prevented her building on her national success. Osborne's time in Australia in December (55.58) would rank her second over the season.
Ana Brabyn makes an entry at 7th in both 400m and 800m following her North Island success. Maples also heads the under 18 Long Jump rankings (5.93m) and has to her name the four best jumps in the grade this year.
With this depth in sprints it is hardly surprising that a Whanganui Collegiate team is both first and second in the under 18 rankings and Whanganui Schools team second in the under 20 4 x 400m rankings following the decisive win at the North Island Championships.
Over 400m hurdles Connor Munro occupies 4th place with Jonathan Maples in 5th in the under 20 grade, while Sophie Redmayne is 4th in the women under 20s. Redmayne also ran in leading relay teams while Munro is also 5th equal in Pole Vault.
Former Whanganui Collegiate athlete Geordie Beamish has gone to the top of the NZ men's 1500m rankings following his 3:39.15 run in California at the weekend.
I will reflect on Whanganui performances in major championships over the season in the second part of the review next week.