Mahurangi College student Elliot Snedden picked up bronze at the Underwater Hockey Age Group World Championship last month.
The 17-year-old played for the New Zealand Men’s U19 team in Hobart in his first international competition.
NZ beat Australia 5-0 to claim the bronze, after narrowly beating them 2-1 in pool play.
“We wanted to leave with at least a medal, but also to prove that we were a squad on the same level as the two final teams,” Elliot says.
“Everyone was pretty happy to get bronze even though we went looking for gold.”
His side lost 2-1 to Great Britain in the semi-final, putting them into the third place play-off.
“Gold was well within our reach so the team was upset to lose that opportunity.
“You’re never going to play a perfect game though so it was pleasing to come close in a hard match.”
NZ faced eight other teams in a round robin format for pool play to reach the play-off.
“I was nervous going into my first ever international game. I also found afterwards a new level of exhaustion that was unbelievable.”
His side won its first three games against Australia, Argentina and the United States before losing 5-2 to Great Britain.
“It was closer than the score made it look, we just shut off for three minutes and conceded the three deciding goals.”
A second game was then lost to eventual winners France, 3-1.
“We conceded two soft goals and the feeling after that game was one of the worst I’ve had.
The team wasn’t clicking so the coach told us to sort it out, which resulted in a one hour team talk about how to pick things back up.”
The tactical decisions and motivation developed there led to a 9-0 thrashing of South Africa.
The teams met again in the quarter-finals with a 4-3 win to NZ.
Elliot made the NZ squad 18 months ago after being selected on national performance and has been training across the country since then.
Prior to playing for New Zealand, Elliot played for Auckland A two years running, and won the national competition with the side.
He first started in the sport with Mahurangi College in 2011, winning two golds at the national schools competition.
“I was spear fishing at the time and had never heard of the sport when coach Terry Axford asked me if I wanted to try it out. It became addictive. I love the challenge of holding your breath when your body is under stress from a high work rate.”
As well as playing, Elliot coaches the Mahurangi College junior open team, which he hopes will win nationals this year after coming third at regionals.
Elliot has his sights set on making the NZ Men’s U23 side for the next world championship in Sheffield in 2019 before making the NZ Open Grade Men’s Elite national team.