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2007 Westpac Emerging Talent Finalists Named

2007 Westpac Emerging Talent Finalists Named

Auckland, 21 December 2007 – A junior world rowing champion and one of the country’s hottest golfing talents are among the four finalists in the running to win a $25,000 Westpac sporting scholarship next year.

Emma Twigg, the World Under-23 Single Scull rowing champion and Danny Lee, runner up at this year’s Callaway Junior World golf tournament in San Diego have been joined by Edward Dawkins (cycling) and Brendon Hartley (motor sport) as the four finalists for the 2007 Westpac Emerging Talent Award.

The quartet were among a group of 18 outstanding young New Zealand sporting achievers put forward for the Emerging Young Talent category, the winner to be revealed at the 2007 Westpac Halberg Awards in Christchurch on February 19.

The Westpac Emerging Talent Award, a category introduced for the first time this year, is designed to identify and reward potential Olympic and World Champions. The Emerging Talent Award is limited to individual athletes who must not have achieved success at elite international level (Olympic, Commonwealth Games etc) or represented their senior national team.

Star multi-sport athlete Rebecca Spence won the Westpac Emerging Talent Award last year after winning the World Junior Duathlon title in Canada and the World Junior Cycling Time Trial in Belgium in the space of two weeks. Spence used some of the scholarship to finance a trip to Europe in the hope of securing a place in the NZ Triathlon team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She is currently preparing for the final qualifying race at Mooloolaba next March.

The 18 youngsters representing 15 sports nominated for the 2007 Westpac Emerging Talent Award were: Marc Willers (mountain bike supercross), Edward Dawkins (cycling), Shannon McIllroy (bowls), Misha Koudinov (gymnastics), Emma Twigg (rowing), Jenny Hung (table tennis), Danny Lee (golf), Chris Steele (yachting), Adam Hall (disabled skiing), Tasha Hind (surf lifesaving), Clark Johnstone (equestrian eventing), Michael Ardern (disabled swimming), Joshua McKenzie-Brown (disabled sailing), Natalie Wiegersma (swimming), Brendon Hartley (motor racing), Sam Wallace-Boyd (beach volleyball), Jacob Spoonley (football) and Joelle King (squash),

In the end the Voting Academy, which itself is stacked with high-performance experience, came up with the final four. Twigg (20) secured qualification for the 2008 Olympic Regatta in Beijing when she finished a commendable 6th in the senior elite World Championship in Munich where she was the youngest in the race by seven years. Lee (17) won two national youth titles and was runner up in the prestigious Dogwood Invitational in the United States, the best finish by a New Zealander in the tournament’s 66 year history. Hartley (18) won the 2007 Euro Cup Formula Renault Championship, beating some 50 drivers from five continents. Dawkins finished 2nd in the 1000m Time Trial at the Junior Cycling Under 19 World Championships posting the fastest time ever recorded by any NZ cyclist.

The Westpac Emerging Talent Voting Academy comprised – Mike Stanley, former NZ Rowing rep and CEO at the Millennium Institute; John Reid, former NZ cricketer and Senior Adviser Talent Development at SPARC; Chris Bullen, former NZ Badminton rep; Martin Toomey, Manager of High Performance at SPARC and Ron Cheatley, one of this country’s most successful elite cycling coaches, Vanessa Paun, SPARC’s Performance Consultant for Talent Identification and Development; Kereyn Smith, CEO at the New Zealand Academy of Sport in the South Island; Mike Chu, NZRU High Performance Coaching Development Manager and Nigel Avery, former Commonwealth weightlifting gold medallist and current General Manager of Sport at the Millennium Institute. Between them they have significant high performance experience.

According to Halberg Trust CEO Graeme Taylor, the aim of the award “is to identify and assist a young athlete in their quest to become a future Olympic or World Champion and, hopefully, one day win the Halberg Award.”

-Ends-

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