Taranaki’s Keegan Joe has just turned 16 and will be the youngest member of New Zealand’s 34 strong Commonwealth Youth Games team. Luckily, if the talented beach volleyballer feels like he needs some mature advice, he won’t have to look far, his volleyball partner Tyran Gillespie is the oldest member of the team, having turned 18 in April.
“It’s pretty funny that we’re together and I’m the oldest and he’s youngest. He’s got a lot of skill though and he’s been playing longer than me so I believe in him, and I believe in us, and we’ll just go out there and give it all we have,” Tyran said.
Teammate Keegan has been playing representative volleyball for several years and has been the youngest team member on several tours. He’s quick to laugh off any suggestion that he’ll need to be taken care of.
“Tyran doesn’t need to look after me, it’ll be me looking after him more likely! Keeping him in line and keeping him focussed”.
Keegan is based in New Plymouth and Tyran in Rotorua. The pair have been travelling between the cities on weekends and during school holidays to train together.
“We train three times a day when we’re in the same place, we can’t wait to get to the Bahamas and get playing,” Keegan said.
Tyran has competed at an international tournament in the United States and knows how much he’ll gain from playing in the Commonwealth Youth Games.
“This will give me a lot of experience and hopefully I can get to the next level from here. I want to get a volleyball scholarship to the United States so this will help me develop. It’s great to play against guys from different countries, learn from them and bring that experience back home.”
Keegan’s also excited about the prospect of an international multi-sport competition.
“It’s definitely the biggest opportunity I’ve had being able to represent NZ like this, it’s really cool. I don’t know if I have a future in volleyball but I’m getting to make the most of it now which is great.”
The pair fly to the Bahamas on July 13th.
Above: Tyran Gillespie dives to keep the ball alive
About the Bahamas Commonwealth Youth Games:
A team of 34 talented young Kiwi athletes will represent New Zealand at the Games, taking on their Commonwealth counterparts between 18 – 23 July 2017. The team will be made up of eleven swimmers, eleven athletics representatives, three cyclists, five boxers and four beach volleyball players. The last Commonwealth Youth Games were held in Samoa in 2015 where New Zealand won 20 medals, made up of seven gold, eight silver and five bronze.
Up to 1300 athletes from around the world will be involved in the Games and will make the most of an inspiring and immersive mix of impactful sporting competition. The Games will allow for personal development in the athletes who will also be given the opportunity to form new Commonwealth friendships.
The Games will provide a performance pathway for the young New Zealand athletes and will also inspire them to future sporting and individual success.Bahamas 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games Tyran Gillespie Keegan Joe Beach Volleyball