A strong contingent of 30 track and field athletes will join the New Zealand team to compete at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney 16-20 January.
The leading male thrower in the team is Matthew Bloxham. The 16 year old from Waitoki Rodney has set three New Zealand age group hammer throw records this season and at the New Zealand secondary schools championships in Dunedin last month won the senior boys shot put and hammer throw. He is the New Zealand M17 hammer throw champion from the national championships in Waitakere last March. Bloxham has qualified for selection to the world youth championships in the Ukraine in July. Another thrower of note in the team is 17 year old Sam Ulufonua from Otahuhu who has also qualified for the world youth championships in the discus having thrown 58.51m.
Talia Horgan is an exciting future international sprinter and middle distance runner. Horgan swept to victory in the senior girls 400m in Dunedin in 55.14s, under the performance standard of 55.50s for the world youth championships. The 16 year old from Cambridge is the New Zealand W17 400m champion and in Sydney she will compete in the 400m and 200m where she has a personal best of 24.99s.
New Zealands fine tradition in middle distance running could well be served by two promising runners who have impressed as they have moved up through the grades from childrens athletics. Jacob Priddey from Hamilton has at the age of 16 broken the four minute barrier in the 1500m recording 3m 59.03s on the North Shore in November. Priddey has a best 3000m of 8m 37.26s and he will be competing in the 1500m and 3000m in Sydney. Michael Dawson of Hillsborough Auckland who turns 16 on the 18 January will want to celebrate his birthday with top performances in the 800m and 1500m. Dawson is the secondary schools junior boys 800m champion winning in a personal best time of 1m 54.84s. He has a best clocking of 4m 5.87s over 1500m.
While in the women Audrey Gregan has the ability to follow Kimberley Smith on the international stage. Gregan at 16 recently ran 5000m in 16m 56.22s and will compete in the shorter 3000m and 1500m races in Sydney. Gregan from Remuera Auckland has best times of 4m 38.80s over 1500m and 9m 47.96s in the 3000m.