Kiwis earn big haul of medals at youth festival
Chef de Mission Chris Arthur has been encouraged by the depth of emerging talent in New Zealand Olympic sports as the Kiwis ended the Australian Youth Olympic 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 as 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 strides this week, including Sydney's hottest day on record, and have performed with all the mana of the Olympians they are aspiring to be.
"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, Invercargill's Jeremy Presbury, 17, picked up his second gold of the competition, in the men's 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. Blenheim's Callum Saunders, 17, 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 Napier), Louis van Velthooven and Jefferson Haldane (both Auckland).
The women's four and men's eight claimed silver and the men's quadruple scull bronze.
In swimming, Hamilton's Bradlee Ashby 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 twice during the day. Meanwhile, team-mate Natasha Lloyd of Kaiapoi claimed bronze in the 200m breaststroke.
St Peter's School student Arianna Lord won two medals on Saturday. Because of the heat, organisers cancelled all outdoor events, so Lord had to run both her 1500m and 3000m races on the same day. She took silver in the 1500 with a personal best time of 4 minutes, 38.79 seconds and beat her personal best in the 3000 by 20 seconds in running 10:06.22.
The New Zealand wrestlers picked up five medals with Papamoa's Merinda Bramley, 14, Auckland's Ruth Minturn, 15, Hamilton's Matiu Pouri-Lane, 16, Paraparaumu's Lucy Rutten, 16, and Chance Sullivan, 15, of Wellington, all claiming bronze in their weight categories.
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.
Of these accolades, which would you like to win most?