South Canterbury athletes made a major impression for the New Zealand team at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival. The team as a whole won 69 medals.
Sprinter Jacob Matson won three medals.
Matson was a member of the New Zealand relay team that won the Swiss Relay, consisting of legs run over 100 metres, 200m, 300m and 400m.
Matson ran the 200m leg to help his team beat Brazil and Australia to the top of the podium.
He won silver in the 200m in 22.49 seconds.
He ran out of lane 8, and off the bend in sixth place, but powered up the home straight with a strong finish to finish second behind an Australian athlete.
Matson then won a bronze medal anchoring the New Zealand team in the 4x100m relay. He took the team from sixth to third place with a powerful finish.
In the 100m final, Matson's blocks shifted and he stumbled at the start, but he came home fast to finish sixth in 11.27sec.
Walker Jonathon Lord earned a bronze medal in the 5000m track event with a personal best of 22min 50.64sec. Lord wanted to go under 23min for the event.
Lauren Bruce won the bronze medal in the hammer throw with a personal best of 51 metres. She also finished seventh in the shot put with a personal best of 11.22m.
James Sandilands finished fifth in the 110m hurdles.
Sandilands did not record a height in the men's high jump.
The New Zealanders added another 15 medals on the final day of competition in Sydney.
Medals were claimed in rowing, wrestling, cycling, golf and swimming as the five-day extravaganza ended. The Kiwi contingent tallied 11 gold, 25 silver and 33 bronze medals at the 1700-athlete, 30-nation event, which is a precursor to the Youth Olympics, which are being held in Nanjing, China, next year.
New Zealand chef de mission Chris 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.
"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."
The rowers finished off their campaign with a gold for the men's four. The women's four, which included South Canterbury's Emma Weith and Emma Dyke, and men's eight claimed silver and the men's quadruple scull bronze.
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 Timaru Herald