Young athletes across New Zealand will be watching their Christmas confectionary intake as they prepare for New Zealand’s national junior athletics championship in January.
The 2014 Colgate Games takes place in Whangarei between the 10th and 12th of January and in Timaru between the 17th and 19th of January, with around 2,000 children expected to take part.
The event, which is open to athletes from age seven to 14 years old, was the launching pad for Olympic silver medallist Nick Willis and the next big thing in shot put, Jacko Gill.
Nineteen-year-old Jacko, who is now battling away to make the step up to senior weight shot put in the hope of qualifying for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, says the Colgate Games had a huge impact on his professional athletics career.
“I remember going to my first Colgate Games when I was 10 years old. It was a really big moment for me, because it was the biggest competition you could possibly have at that age.”
Jacko says the Colgate Games gave him motivation to do well and pursue athletics full-time.
“It gave me more drive to go and tackle bigger competitions, so it was good motivation for me when I was younger to keep pushing myself hard.
“There’s a great spirit around the Colgate Games too and it’s a great celebration of athletics in New Zealand. You get a lot of pride out of it if you win or improve on your personal best.”
Jacko’s advice to future Colgate Games athletes isn’t as simple as aiming for gold.
“Aim for your personal best instead of aiming for medals. You can’t control what your competition does, you can only control what you throw, or run, or jump.
“I heard a quote the other day that I quite like – ‘You have to learn to lose before you can win.’ I lost a lot of competitions when I was young, but it just made me stronger. Concentrate on improving your performance, and every competition you go to, try and get your personal best. One day, you’ll win the competition and you can celebrate then.”
Four athletes who display outstanding performance at each event in January will again be presented with a Nick Willis Scholarship. Awarded for the first time in 2013, the scholarship recipients will receive a donation to put towards sports gear, coaching and other resources to help them towards their athletics goals.
2013 Nick Willis Scholarship recipients:
Zane Edwards – Titahi Bay Amateur Athletics Club, Wellington
Jessie Anderson – University of Canterbury Athletic Club
Paige Satchell – Lake City Athletic Club, Rotorua
Jack Bryant – University of Canterbury Athletic Club
Niven Longopoa – Hillsborough Junior Athletics Club, Auckland
Jake Nicholls – Christchurch Avon Athletic Club
Briana Stephenson – Hastings Athletic Club, Hawke’s Bay
Emma Hopcroft – Gore Athletics Club
2014 North Island Colgate Games
10 – 12 January 2014, ASB Sports Arena, Park Avenue, Kensington, Whangarei
2014 South Island Colgate Games
17 – 19 January 2014, Alpine Energy All Weather Track, Aorangi Park, Morgans Road, Timaru