Ashhurst junior ranks swell as countdown to interprovincials begins

The children's side of the sport is starting to swing into action, with most clubs reporting increased participation.

Ashhurst reports that for the first time in many years it is experiencing an increase in the 12-year-old grade numbers.

That's great to hear.

There is a place in sport for athletes to continue to represent their home town rather than gravitate toward the larger clubs.

I know the Palmerston North club has no problems with athletes who have joined their home clubs competing at their club nights.

One of the highlights for athletes in the 12- and 13-year age groups is the opportunity to compete in the interprovincial meet at Easter.

This year's championships are being held in Timaru and, as such, will be an expensive exercise.

With this in mind, the Manawatu-Wanganui children's committee is starting its planning for this trip now and the centre selectors are calling for expressions of interest from children who may be interested in competing.

The early estimate is around $800 for each athlete so there needs to be sufficient time for parents and clubs to start their fundraising.

The older age groups have the 14, under-16 and under-18 interprovincials in Masterton on January 26, and again the centre selectors, Vanessa Story, Peter Blackwood and Rosemary McKay, will be looking for expressions of interest from athletes.

On Sunday the Manawatu-Wanganui Athletics children's team championships will be held, at Waiopehu College, Levin.

You need to get your entries in tonight.

This meet will be the ideal time for parents to get more information about the interprovincial events.

■ A big welcome back to Hamish Meacheam, who has returned to Sport Manawatu after a short spell in the Bay of Plenty.

It's great to know life in Manawatu isn't so bad after all, and that sport in Manawatu can again count on his expertise and passion.

■ The venue for the 2013 national championships has been confirmed as Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.

The Auckland centre is calling for officials for this event, and application forms have been sent to centre officials co-ordinators or can be downloaded from the Athletics Auckland's website.

While checking this website, I saw two Palmerston North athletes, Tulin Pritchard (10) and Monique Whiteman (11), in the Auckland 2013 trans-Tasman team that will travel to Sydney on January 7.

They will be part of a 120-strong team of 10- and 11-year-olds who will compete in two carnivals before the challenge meeting on January 13.

This trans-Tasman challenge has a lengthy history.

I can recall one of my Newcastle friends, Terry O'Carroll, being proud that he won the 11-year-olds' 1500m while representing Auckland and that his daughter Tia also won the 11-year-olds' 1500m, but she represented New South Wales.

While talking about Newcastle, I've just learnt that Olivia Leonard and Meghan Coffey, two of the athletes who competed here in January, were part of the Newcastle team that won the New South Wales under-20 4x1500m title in Sydney on Saturday. It is exciting to follow these athletes and seeing the benefits they gained from the tour.

■ On Saturday there should be some exciting competition in the third and deciding round of the Central Region teams competition at the Community Athletics track at Massey.

With the New Zealand Secondary Schools championships a fortnight away, this will be the ideal preparation for athletes peaking for this event.

Adding further interest will be the battle for bragging rights as the top team.

Manawatu have home advantage and were comfortable winners in the opening round here a month ago. But they are hurting after getting upstaged by Wanganui in the second round.

Both teams will be strengthened with some top athletes back.

It is believed that national 800m champion Brad Mathas and former sprint star Phillipa Symes might compete for Wanganui.

What's on.

Today: Palmerston North Athletics Programme B, MCAT, 5.45 pm; Ashhurst Athletics Lincoln Park.

tomorrow: Feilding Athletics, Timona Park; Te Kawau Athletics, Rongotea.

November 24: Round 3, Central teams competition, MCAT, 11.45am.

November 25: Athletics Manawatu-Wanganui children's teams event, Levin.

November 26: Levin Athletics.

November 27: Palmerston North Athletics Programme C, MCAT, 5.45pm; Ashhurst Athletics.

November 28: Feilding Athletics, Te Kawau Athletics.

December 1: Palmerston North Athletics Ribbon Day.

December 2: Carol McNie meeting, Wanganui.

Manawatu Standard