Coast athletes excel at international events

Mystics defender Michaela Sokolich-Beatson of Whangaparaoa led the U21 team to victory against the Australians in the Netball World Youth Cup final. Photo, Netball NZ

July appears to have been a magic month for a number of young Hibiscus Coast athletes who competed in major international competitions, with impressive results.

Whangaparaoa netballer Michaela Sokolich-Beatson is fast making a name for herself within the Mystics squad and was chosen to captain the New Zealand U21 team which contested the Netball World Youth Cup in Botswana, July 8–16. The International Netball Federation describes the event as “the pinnacle of netball competition for emerging players”. The NZ team went in as defending champions and faced Australia in the final, securing a 60–57 win in a close fought match.

Later this month, Michaela will trial for the Silver Ferns squad.

Local swimmer Finn Kennard-Campbell of Arkles Bay backstroked his way to the podium, bringing back Gold, Silver and Bronze medals (one of each) from the Commonwealth Youth Games, held in the Bahamas July 19–23.

The Gold was for the Men’s 50m backstroke, Bronze for the Men’s 100m backstroke and Silver in the 400m mixed medley (first leg, 100m backstroke).

The nine members of the NZ swim team excelled in the pool, coming second to England on the medal table with 20 medals, seven of them Gold – just one behind the English tally. Across all sports, the NZ team ended up in third place, behind England and Australia. The Kiwis also earned praise for donating a suitcase full of NZ branded sports gear to the Tanzanian team who were struggling for kit.

Finn has been selected for the Swimming NZ national team and High Performance Sport NZ and Sport NZ’s ‘pathway to podium’ programme. He will represent NZ again at the Australian State teams short course championship in October.

“I want to thank the Whangaparaoa Rotary club for their generous contribution towards the cost of competing at the Games, along with family and friends who donated to my Give-a-little page,” he says.

Preparation for a kickboxing title fight in the Pacific Islands took Marcus Heywood a solid two months, at Dynamic Martial Arts in Silverdale.

The Stanmore Bay fighter, aged 23, attended the first World Kickboxing Association (WKA) sanctioned event in Tahiti at the end of June with a five-person NZ team.

Here he came up against Teva Paulet of Tahiti in a five-round fight for the Under 76kg Polynesia title – winning this gave him his first international title.

The competition was overseen by WKA Oceania regional director Dave Sawyer of Dynamic Martial Arts. “Marcus was motivated in that final round by the recent birth of his baby,” Dave Sawyer says.

Lifesavers leave it all in the pool
Two solid days of racing in the pool on July 21 and 22 saw New Zealand’s surf lifesaving team finish in fifth place overall at the World Games in Poland.

It’s been nine years since New Zealand last sent a lifesaving team to the World Games and the selected athletes include Northern Arena’s Steven Kent and Orewa surf lifesaver Ella Drinnan. They were up against some of the best athletes in the world.

Multi-sport event and team manager Mark Weatherall says the event was a great experience for the team of 10 athletes, who set many new personal bests.

“I’m very proud of the team and it’s an important step towards next year’s Lifesaving World Championships in Adelaide,” he says.


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