Tough Lessons Learned ... The Aucklander - Feb 7th 2007
No matter what the sport, the Aussies are always tough competitors, as these youngsters from the Bay Cougars athletics club found. Tim Lamb reports.
Sophie Healey is learning from an early age that one of the hardest pains in competitive sports is losing to the Aussies. Sophie and James Doyle, both 15, have spent the last two months chasing gold at local and international events designed to expose them to tougher competition.
The rising stars of the Bays Cougar club dominate their age groups here, but found the competition a lot stiffer when they represented New Zealand at the Australian Youth Olympics in Sydney last month. The Australian team dominated this year's meet and both athletes missed out on podium finishes. However, a lack of success has left Sophie more determined. ``I really want to beat the Aussies next time we have the Youth Olympics,'' she says.
The teens were competing in the under-17 age group so will be eligible when the biennial event rolls around in 2009. ``I think it's good that we have another chance to compete because I was really nervous this time and now know what to expect.'' Sophie and James dominated their respective athletic events during the secondary school competition in December before heading to Samoa for the Oceania Championships.
Sophie grabbed gold in the 400m, while James shot-putted his way to gold at the international event. But more of an eye-opener for both was the different environments they are having to learn to compete in. The athletes had to compete in very humid conditions and without the luxuries they are used to at the Bays Cougars' home base: the Millennium Institute. ``There was even a dog running across the fields when I was competing,'' James says.
Sophie and James are now preparing for the national champs in March, where they intend to return to their winning ways.