This Saturday in Hastings with the 20th Potts Classic brings sees the end of the January Classic Track and Field Meetings in the lower North Island. Organisers will now review the format and timings of three meetings.
The Capital Classic on Friday was blessed with a warm sunny and still evening in sharp contrast to the cold blustery conditions at Cooks Gardens three days earlier.
Both the Cooks and Capital Classic Meetings featured some excellent performances but both meetings saw a drop in the number of entries and disappointing number of spectators.
Perhaps it was the change of order of the three Meetings and the way the weeks in January have fallen this year. Perhaps athletes feel it is early in the business end of the season and our athletes Christmas break seems to have lengthened. It is worth noting that the Athletics New Zealand Championships is only six weeks away. It was pleasing that Whanganui athletes provided over 10% of the entry at Cooks Gardens last week.
We had a similar drop in numbers in the young athletes taking part in the Aspiring Athletes Tour which took in both the Capital and Cooks Classic.
There had been no Tour in 2018 and as is so often the case it is hard to pick up the momentum after a year's gap. It is also true to say that our enforced name change from Young Olympians four years ago, because of commercial copyright, has lost some of the lustre of former tours and camps.
The Young Olympian Camps started back in 1990 here in Whanganui and in the intervening year there have been 27 Tours and Camps with all but two based in Whanganui.
Although only a small group toured, they were joined by several local athletes and there were 27 around the table with both athletes and coaches enjoying a special Tour Dinner.
Eighty per cent of the young tourists set a personal best on Tour either at the Classics or at the Sola Power Throws Meet last Saturday. As with the Classic series we will be reviewing and hopefully rejuvenating the tour and camps.
Zoe Hobbs, Auckland and formerly of Taranaki, provided a meeting highlight in Wellington on Friday in the 100 metres with an outstanding 11.42 seconds to eclipse Wendy Brown's resident record of 11.50 set in 1974 and closes in on Michelle Seymour's national record of 11.32 set in Melbourne in 1993. An hour later she won the 200m in a slick 23.32 seconds, she is clearly an athlete with an exciting future.
18-year-old Sam Tanner who had set the New Zealand under 19 1500m record in Whanganui at the Cooks Classic demonstrated his versatility by outsprinting Nick Willis in the feature 800 metres recording a personal best 1:49.02 (Willis 1:50.050 while, the closest finish of the day came in the 100 metres.
Edward Osei Nketia, son of New Zealand senior men's 100 metre record holder Gus Nketia, was given the same time of 10.50 as New Zealand International Joseph Millar and Nketia was given the win after examination of the photo. Nketia won the 200 metres by a much wider margin (21.27 and 21.69)
Whanganui athletes fared well in Wellington. Emma Osborne won the women's 400 metres in 57.46. Sophie Williams continued her good series of runs over 100 metres winning her heat in 12.22 seconds winning by nearly 3/10 of a second.
Williams has won all her five races in 2019 and it is perhaps a pity that she was not given a run in the elite 100 metres as her time was faster than two in the elite race and within range of all but the first three in that race. Genna Maples finished third in her strong 200 metre heat in 25.48 just ahead of training partner Tayla Brunger who's 25.50 was only .02 outside of her personal best. They ran into the only head wind of the evening.
Brunger, Osborne, Williams and Maples combined to run in the 4 x 100 relay against two national squads and although finishing third they took nearly half a second off the Collegiate record stopping the clock in an impressive 48.44 seconds.
This was a new combination that could have two years together. The race winners New Zealand A qualified for the World University Championships later this year.
Lucas Martin backed up second in the Colgate Games walk earlier this month with a good second place in the Open 3000 metre walk in Wellington. Although outside of his personal best, paying perhaps for the early fast pace, he should be delighted with his progress while Zach Bellamy and Andres Hernandez set personal bests in their respective 800m and 1500 metre events (2:01.05 and 4:04.82)
The final meet in the series the Potts Classic is in Hastings this Saturday.