Achilles injury fails to deter Ariana Blackwood
Ariana Blackwood won an Oceania gold medal on one leg, so should become a force once she's back to full fitness.
The 20-year-old from Feilding soldiered on with an injured Achilles tendon at the Oceania championships in New Caledonia last month to win a gold medal in discus and a bronze in heptathlon.
Blackwood hurt her Achilles after a day trip up Mt Ngauruhoe a couple of months ago where she twisted it racing down.
Blackwood was getting physio on her strapped Achilles between each event, getting massage and acupuncture treatment in the hot and humid conditions.
"They were worried that I would rupture it, especially in the jumping events," Blackwood said. "They told me I shouldn't be doing heptathlon. But I didn't want to go just for discus."
It is improving, but she is taking the next month off to recover and aims to compete again later in the year. She usually plays hockey for Marist in the athletics off season, but the physio has warned her against that this year.
The New Zealand coaches have told her she should be an 800m runner, but she wants to stick with her preferred event, the heptathlon.
"At the moment I'm a better discus thrower. Because originally I was a runner, in heptathlon I'm still able to be competitive in running. Most people dread the 800m but that's my favourite event."
Her 41.44m discus throw won gold, but she has thrown 46m in training.
She said the trick to throwing discus is not to think about it too much because "the more you try the worse it goes".
"I was ranked fourth in the warmup and I was sussing everyone out thinking I'd be lucky if I could get a medal. As soon as the competition started pressure got to a couple of people."
Blackwood has been running since she was 6, but her form "plateaued a bit" until recently.
She started training at the Snap Fitness gym with Kane Reid in Feilding and the improvement started then.
"It just helped everything," Blackwood said. "Training and doing something different."
Blackwood and her family lived in Whakatane, where father Peter was heavily involved in athletics, for 10 years before moving to Palmerston North as a 12-year-old in 2006.
A former Freyberg High School student, Blackwood is in her third year studying environmental science and ecology at Massey University.
She has competed under the banner of Wellington Scottish Athletics Club for 10 years.