Youthful athletes shine at nationals

Marlborough’s up-and-coming track and field athletes showed they can foot it with the nation’s best over Easter.

Nine Marlborough athletes were selected to represent Tasman in Palmerston North at the national 12 and 13-year-old Inter provincial athletics meeting.

All the Marlborough contingent represented the area superbly, producing a number of person bests against the leading athletes in their age groups.

However, there were four stand-out performances.

Isla Tilbury broke two Marlborough records and a Tasman record on her way to being the best-performing athlete from the Tasman team. She claimed first placing in the 12 girls 400m with a Tasman record time of 59.1 seconds, taking over two seconds off a Marlborough record that has stood for over 30 years. Isla also had an outstanding run in the 12 girls 800m, winning in a Marlborough record time of 2.22.2. She was placed second overall 12 girl for the meeting, with athletes being awarded points for each event they compete in.

Elijah O'Donnell has had an outstanding season. Photo Peter Jones

Another stand-out was Elijah O’Donnell, in his first season of athletics. Elijah finished second in the 1500m with a new Marlborough record time and was first in the 800m, in another Marlborough record time of 2.16.42, both outstanding efforts for someone so new to the sport.

The versatile and multi-talented Brooke Harper also produced notable performances, coming second in the 100m, 200m and long jump. Brooke’s time of 26.90 in the 200m was a personal best and only .07sec off first place.

Neve Mackenzie was another to excel, breaking the Marlborough record in the 12 girls 1500m. Her time of 4.51.64 was a superb effort, breaking a record that had stood for many years.

Meanwhile, there have been some other Marlborough athletes in action in recent weeks.

Nikau Peipi was the only Marlborough athlete able to compete at the recent NZ open nationals in Hastings when the meet was reduced to para, under-20 and senior athletes only due to covid concerns.

Nikau’s highlight was a NZ record in the F46 Para javelin. He also won the discus, placed second in the 100m and long jump, plus third in the shotput.

The South Island secondary schools champs were staged in Christchurch on April 10-11. Six Marlborough boys - Dale Arbuckle, Elijah O’Donnell, James Hansen, Ronan West, Riley Brophy and Alex Craig - attended.

James won the 300m hurdles, finished second in the pole vault and third in the under-16 400m.

Elijah came third in the 1500m and fourth in the under-14 800m while Dale placed fifth in the under-16 high jump. Ronan was fifth in the high jump and eighth in the under-15 boys 200m final.

Brooke Harper, from Marlborough Girls’ College, was the standout girl from this region, placing first in the under-14 girls 200m and second in the 100m.