She trains 11 times a week and runs competitively every Saturday, but Palmerston North 12-year-old Zia MacDermid is still committed to training harder and getting faster. Jessica Sutton caught up with the speedster. -
Attending the Olympic Games as a New Zealand runner is Zia MacDermid's dream.
The competitive Monrad Intermediate School student has been running for as long as she can remember, but joined the Feilding Moa Running Club about three years ago.
"We [my siblings] did well in school cross-country so we decided to get into it," she says.
"You just feel free when you're running.
"I like pushing myself hard to get better times and to beat myself I guess. I don't like losing."
She has just returned from a competition at Battle Hill in Wellington, where she was part of the winning under-19 women's relay team.
Her sister Kara, 14, and brother Noah, 10, are also runners and as a family they train every morning and afternoon.
While other children are watching afternoon cartoons or playing video games, Zia can be found pounding the pavement.
"I have a race every weekend until August. We're doing heaps of training for that. At the moment we're just starting off our training but after this week it will get harder."
In the mornings she wakes at 6.45am to run 4km, and after school she runs another 3-5km. Her afternoon session is a combination of running and circuits.
"Sometimes I think `do I have to', especially when I've got sore legs but you get going once you start running.
"You've got to be committed to running, otherwise it [training] drops off or you sleep in. You've got to push yourself."
To make sure she doesn't injure herself, Zia has eight pairs of sport shoes for road running, cross-country, hiking, biking and other sports.
When she grows up she wants to be a professional runner.
"I want to go to the Olympics and I want do the 5 or 10-kilometre runs.
"We don't have any New Zealand runners who do that at the moment. It's mainly just the Kenyans and Ethiopians."
Zia is also a mountainbiker, and earlier this year she won the Oceania and National Mountain Bike events.
Apart from running, biking and school, Zia says she doesn't have time for much else.
"I get back home from training and do my homework, then it's dinner and then bedtime.
"On the weekends I race on Saturdays and on Sundays we go for longer runs. I really enjoy it. It's fun."
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