Daina speeds her way to top of sport

01:03, Jan 24 2012
diana gibbs
SLICK WHEELS: Daina Gibbs is a flyer on inline skates, taking home a swag of medals from the latest national competition in Timaru this month. Photo: ROBERT KITCHIN/FAIRFAX NZ

It seems Daina Gibbs was always supposed to end up doing well at some kind of sport.

The 15-year-old has spent most of her school life trying to play as many sports as possible – anything from indoor netball to water polo.

But as the years went on, some had to fall by the wayside.

While doing only six sports in 2009, last year she decided to focus on inline speed skating.

That is probably due to her being introduced to the sport when just 7 years old.

"I went to Barber Hall when I was little and learned to skate," she says.


"Some people noticed I was doing quite well, so they gave me skates to borrow to go to Tuesday training sessions."

Those training sessions led to competitions, with Daina competing at her first nationals at age 9.

Six years later, she is picking up medals, trophies and records left, right and centre.

While the entire Manawatu Showgrounds Skating Club performed well at nationals this month in Timaru – with 14 competitors bringing home 63 medals – Daina was arguably the star.

She brought home 11 medals – four golds, six silvers and two bronzes.

If that were not enough, she also went on to help break two senior national relay records – the 3200-metre mixed and 3000m female relays.

The mixed team – also featuring Kierryn Hughes, Brayden Judd and Tegan Roffe – shaved 12 seconds off the relay record.

Just 20 minutes after that race, the female team of Daina, Roffe, and Hayley Ching took eight seconds off the eight-year-old women's national record.

Despite all the accolades, Daina is still shy about her achievements.

Instead, she says she wants the whole club to be acknowledged for the hard work they all do.

The good results do not come without sacrifice though, mostly in the form of training – and lots of it.

"In the holidays I train about 10 times a week, but usually when at school I only do eight," Daina says.

Training involves two-hour skating sessions, fitness work and cycling, usually on all seven days of the week.

And if there is no way to train outside, mother Vicki Gibbs drags the exercise bike out.

Then there is the travelling, which is self-funded.

Ms Gibbs says she loves having competitions in town, as it cuts down on the massive travel bills.

Equipment is also expensive. Competition wheels cost about $30 a pop and each skate has four wheels.

Even secondhand gear is pricey; a set of good secondhand boots can cost more than $400.

But it is all about working toward the ultimate goal of being a world-class skater.

While realistic about the pay prospects, Daina says she just wants to do what she loves. "I'll probably do my OE and go around Europe and Asia and go to tournaments."

But before then, there are Oceania championships to attend. This year will be the third time Daina has represented her country at the tournament, which she says is a great time to catch up with friends from elsewhere in the country.

"We all get on really really well, but when it comes to racing we do it for ourselves," she says.

Manawatu Standard