Dunedin nurse to represent New Zealand at world gumboot throwing champs
Until February, former Waimate woman Mairead Fox had never "thrown a gumboot in her life". Now she is New Zealand's first women's gumboot throwing champion, and heading to the world championships in Italy.
It all started when the 24-year-old and her friends went to Queenstown for a party weekend. The rural games happened to be on at the same time and the group "rocked up" and decided to give gumboot throwing a go.
The next thing she knew, she was competing in the South Island championships and then ended up winning the national competition, despite a slight hangover.
Her only previous throwing experience was javelin at high school.
Fox left Queenstown and had forgotten about her triumph until a phone call inviting her to attend the world championships in Italy.
"It's gotten a bit out of control."
The main reaction from people when Fox, who is now a nurse in Dunedin, tells them she is going to the Gumboot Throwing World Championships is to laugh.
"They think I'm taking the piss, and think I'm having them on. They don't believe me at first but then get behind it after I explain."
She has been fundraising to get to Italy and has reached her $5000 target. She also has sponsors, including the New Zealand Boot Throwing Association and Skellerup.
She is up against some stiff competition from around the world, including women from Finland, Sweden, Estonia and Russia.
"I think it's going to be pretty difficult, [they're] big Eastern European athletes. I looked them up and they grunt."
Her teammate, competing in the men's competition, is New Zealand decathlete Brent Newdick.
Gumboot throwing has similar rules and set-up to discus throwing.
As everybody got behind her, Fox decided to take the competition seriously and got a coach to help her with her throwing technique.
She said she trains for around an hour most days and hopes to achieve a throw of 30 metres or more. Her winning throw at the nationals was 28m.
At first she just "biffed" the gumboot, but has now added a run-up and spinning technique.
She leaves for Italy in two weeks for the competition on September 12.