National champion. Record holder.
The two titles Matt Baxter wanted desperately beside his name before he signed off as New Plymouth Boys' High School's best athlete in 2012. Mission accomplished.
Baxter, 18, slashed three seconds off the national secondary schools 3000m record, stopping the clock at eight minutes 15.5 seconds to break the previous mark, which had stood for 21 years.
"I got up about 6.30ish, so I only had about three hours to think about it," he said.
"I was in the shower, feeling sick and I was feeling sick at the track with all the nerves and that but once the gun went, I was into it.
"I just focused on running my race and it worked out perfectly."
After a blustery day on Saturday, the weather in Dunedin was picture perfect yesterday, giving Baxter plenty of confidence he could achieve both goals, despite nerves.
"Every lap I could see I was on the right track for the record," he said. "Things just worked out perfectly."
As expected, Baxter proved far too good for his rivals, who could not set any pace for him.
Instead, he just focused on relaxing his action and sticking to his pre-race plan.
The gap in class between Baxter and the rest of the field was obvious - the next runner was 31sec behind at the line.
"Somebody tried sticking with me for the first couple of laps, apparently, but after that no-one really tried," he said.
"I just felt so good after the first couple of kilometres and I knew fatigue wouldn't be a factor. I just went for it and got there in the end."
The Taranaki junior sportsman of the year can add the national schools 3000m title to the national cross-country championship title won this year.
Baxter plans to run a couple of races in Auckland before the new year and then map out his targets for 2013.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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