Young Marlborough athlete Lucy Sheat has returned from the Athletics New Zealand Track and Field Championship triumphant, with three medals.
Representing the Tasman team, Sheat finished second in the final of the women's youth (under-18) 100m with a personal best (PB) of 12.22 seconds and third in the women's youth 200m final with a PB of 24.86. She also bagged a bronze medal in the women's youth 4x400m relay.
What's particularly impressive about the 14-year-old's performance is that she was among the youngest competitors at the meet, which was held at Newtown Park in Wellington last weekend. She said it was "slightly scary" facing girls up to four years her senior, but she enjoyed the challenge of testing herself against the best age-grade athletes in the country.
Sheat headed to the champs mainly for the experience, and not expecting to produce results, so was surprised to do so well.
"I didn't expect those results at all, really. I didn't expect to get anywhere, I just mainly went for the experience."
The event marked a number of challenges for Sheat, as it hosted some of the country's top athletic personalities, including Jacko Gill, and generated much bigger crowd numbers and more public interest than she was accustomed to. However, the experience provided her with a valuable learning curve, as there was plenty to be taken from both members within the Tasman team and other competitors.
"It was awesome to learn things like technique, and that off the other, older girls. That's one of the biggest things I took out of it."
Because it was a bigger, and more competitive event, the sprinter said she prepared differently in the weeks leading up to the meet. "I had to train quite hard, but the main thing was just staying healthy and not trying to push it too hard. I spent quite a lot of time doing gym work."
The maturity and steadiness of the Marlborough Girls' College student was impressive, and Lucy's mother Jane aptly sums up why her daughter has been going from strength to strength in recent weeks.
"She coped mentally with her challenges cleverly, used her brain well. She did what her coach asked."
Sheat's season wraps up in Timaru this weekend, where she will compete in the South Island secondary schools' competition, before enjoying a much-deserved off-season.
- The Marlborough Express