Timaru's growing reputation as a top speed skating centre has attracted a 10-year-old Indian girl to spend three months in South Canterbury.
Anushka Narkar has returned to Timaru to continue her tutelage under international coaches Bill and Cheryl Begg.
India is a growing force in world speed skating and because temperatures exceed 40 degrees Celsius in her home state of Maharashtra, it is impossible to train, so Anushka's parents decided to send her back to Timaru.
The family spent two months holidaying in South Canterbury last year because of the track and coaching that was available but have sent their daughter to board with the Beggs, along with another Indian family.
Anushka is attending Waimataitai School but is spending as much time as possible on her skates.
She said she is enjoying staying in Timaru and is able to skype her parents so is not homesick.
Helping her is the fact she has been befriended by fellow skater Charlotte Clarke. Anushka said she has already represented India and is keen to develop her skating talents further.
Bill Begg said Anushka was doing very well. "Last year she went back home and cleaned up so she was keen to return."
Begg said there were thousands of speed skaters throughout India but admitted half were still likely to be on old quad skates.
"India is developing really well, they send full squads to the world championships.
"Anushka is also coming along nicely, she has real potential."
Anushka said her other favourite sports were swimming and iceskating.
She finished third in the cadets' half marathon at Levels at the weekend in the under-14 grade.
Begg said her presence added to the nations that had sent skaters to Timaru since the banked track was built 18 months ago. "We've had Slovakians, Germans, Indonesian and Singaporeans as well as Malaysian skaters all spend time here.
"That is without the Australians who are here regularly and are sending there world championships team for a week next month to train."
- The Timaru Herald