Tempus fugit - Time flies, especially when one enjoys what one is doing.
The end of this month and the start of next month marks two personal anniversaries. The first is that this week marks 16 years since I wrote the first "Insight" for the Wanganui Chronicle. The second occurs on September 11 with the 39th edition of Round the Lake Relay, the annual schools relay race at Virginia Lake. I will return to the relay with a preview next week.
I wrote the first weekly article on my return from Melbourne after attending the IAAF World Final back in 2001. Australia had been asked to host the event following the successful Sydney Olympics the previous year.
The Melbourne event brought together the world's greatest athletes including 13 Olympic gold medal or world record holders. It was a well presented and hugely successful event although Melbourne media coverage was poor as it clashed with AFL semi-finals. There were 15 pages in the Sunday paper on the AFL and one on the IAAF final.
The IAAF finals are now over two weekends. The first was held in Zurich last weekend and on tomorrow the curtain comes down on the Diamond League in Brussels where Tomas Walsh seeks to continue his excellent run in the shot by retaining his Diamond League title to add to the World Goal earlier in the month.
One thing that can be certain is that the Zurich and Brussels media will devote more than one page to the event and there will not be an empty seat in the stadium.
I generally write the article on a Wednesday for the Thursday Chronicle although occasionally it is a day later if a major event is on a Wednesday or when the Chronicle suggests that the article will appear on Friday.
On one such occasion I attached an article to the Chronicle that was dated a year earlier as the date on my file was exactly the same. Only one reader picked out that the information was a year out of date. Admittedly the story covered the same round of the Regional Athletic League and many of the same athletes had excelled in both
It is good to start the seventeenth year with a good news. Wanganui Collegiate middle distance athlete Liam Back has been named in the six strong New Zealand Secondary Schools boys' team to compete in the ISF World Schools Cross Country in Paris next April.
The athletes must be under 18 at the end of next year and were selected largely as a result of performances at the New Zealand Secondary Schools Championships in Christchurch in June, although other performances were taken into account.
Back joined Collegiate from St Peters College Auckland at the start of this year as a young Year 11 athlete. Back had finished 6th in last year's junior NZ Schools 1500 metres showing huge potential. Over the months of February, March and April he made impressive progress over a number of events finishing 4th in the North Island Intermediate 1500 metres and the same position in the Athletics New Zealand under 18 Steeplechase.
He prepared well for New Zealand Schools Cross Country in a build -up that saw him win the under 18 Dorne Cup event and produce excellent fast winning performances at both the Collegiate and Whanganui Schools Cross County.
Back was clearly in good form but as a relative unknown he arrived in Christchurch unheralded and not one of the favourites. As reported at the time Back ran a superb race to take the New Zealand Schools under 16 Championship. This performance was backed up by 4th position in the New Zealand under 18 Cross Country at the end of July in Auckland where only two athletes young enough for Paris finished ahead of him.
One of these, Murdoch McIntyre, has opted to run for his school Westlake Boys High School who have been selected as the boy's school to run in the school's race that precedes the selected team event. This leaves young Back as the second ranked Kiwi in Paris - a grand achievement for an athlete who is still only 15-years-old.
Back follows the two Wanganui Collegiate Athletes, Christian Conder and Jane Lennox, who ran at the last edition of the event in Budapest. Unfortunately Back will not be joined by the Collegiate girls team who had sought to follow in the footsteps of the boy's team of 2008 and the girls of 2010 by being selected to represent New Zealand as a school.
They were narrowly defeated in their bid by St Cuthbert's of Auckland who join fellow Auckland School Westlake Boys High School. St Cuthbert's have every chance of improving from their 7th position gained in Budapest.