Depth of talent emerging in young athletes
Wanaka slalom kayaker Jessica Bailey has won silver at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney.
Her second in the K1 whitewater slalom event puts her in good stead for New Zealand selection races, which are about to start.
Bailey was one of three kayakers who attended the Youth Olympic festival, the others being Marcus Norbury and Finn Butcher, both of Alexandra.
Norbury finished fifth in the C1 event while Butcher was seventh in the men's K1.
Meanwhile, chef de mission Chris Arthur has been encouraged by the depth of emerging talent in New Zealand Olympic sports as the Kiwis ended the festival with a 69-medal haul.
The New Zealanders added another 15 medals on the final day of competition in Sydney, taking the 156-strong team's tally to 69.
Medals were claimed in rowing, wrestling, cycling, golf and swimming to conclude the five-day extravaganza. The Kiwi contingent tallied 11 gold, 25 silver and 33 bronze medals from the 1700-athlete, 30-nation event, which is a precursor to the Youth Olympics, which are being held in Nanjing, China, next year.
Arthur believed the young Kiwis showed maturity beyond their years during the competition, which bodes well for Nanjing.
"Our elite junior athletes have taken everything in their stride this week, including Sydney's hottest day on record, and have performed with all the mana of the Olympians they are aspiring to be," he said.
"New Zealand can rest assured that we have a real depth of talent emerging across a number of sports and I hope to see many of these athletes at the Youth Olympics."
On the final day, Jeremy Presbury, 17, of Invercargill, picked up his second gold of the competition, in the men's cycling sprint, having won gold in the men's keirin race earlier in the week as well as being part of the men's silver medal-winning sprint team.
Callum Saunders, 17, of Blenheim, collected his third silver in the men's scratch race to go alongside his medals in the keirin and men's team sprint.
The rowers finished off their campaign with a gold for the men's four, made up of Andrew Potter, Tom Jenkins, both of Napier, Louis van Velthooven and Jefferson Haldane, both of Auckland.
The women's four and men's eight claimed silver and the men's quadruple scull bronze.
In swimming, Bradlee Ashby, of Hamilton, backed up his silver medal-winning performance in the men's 400m individual medley with a bronze in the 200m individual medley.
He also broke his own New Zealand record, which he set late last year, twice during the day.
Meanwhile, team-mate Natasha Lloyd, of Kaiapoi, claimed bronze in the 200m breaststroke.
The New Zealand wrestlers picked up five medals with Merinda Bramley, 14, of Papamoa, Ruth Minturn, 15, of Auckland, Matiu Pouri-Lane, 16, of Hamilton, Lucy Rutten, 16, of Paraparaumu, and Chance Sullivan, 15, of Wellington, all claiming bronze in their weight categories.
There were also two medals on the golf course, with Compton Pikari, 17, of Te Awamutu, picking up two bronze medals, in the men's individual competition and as part of the team event.
The athletes will now be hoping to emulate the likes of London Olympic medallists Lisa Carrington, Blair Tuke and Peter Burling, who all began their careers at the festival.
The Southland Times