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Wheelchair athlete aspires for Round the Bays win

HSBC Round the Bays Media Release

Monday 3 March 2008 - For immediate release

16-year old wheelchair athlete aspires for second win in HSBC Round the Bays

Coming first out of a field of more than 40,000 runners, walkers and wheelchair contestants at last year's HSBC Round the Bays was such a buzz for 16-year old athlete Matthew Lack, that he has decided to come back a second time.

The wheelchair athlete from Opotiki competes internationally and is one of the world's best in his age-group at 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1,500m wheelchair sprints.

However he enjoys the extended 8.4km HSBC Round the Bays course, as well as the buzz of competing in such a massive field of well over 45,000.

"I love doing long distance, it's a good event and a great track," says Matthew, who is from Opotiki and travels to Auckland especially from the event.

Matthew, who is a school student and trains six days a week, has recently returned from very successful competitions in both South African and Australia, and hopes to attend the 2012 Paralympics.

He finished last year's event in a time of 18 minutes and 31 seconds - more than seven minutes ahead of Paul Hamblyn, the first male runner over the line, and one minute ahead of paralympian Gavin Foulsham's winning time in 2006. Matthew's win also broke Gavin's eight-year consecutive winning streak.

However he is coy about his chances this year: "We have to see when we get there," he laughs.

Norman Wilson, CEO of HSBC New Zealand, wishes Matthew and all competitors a great day out: "It's terrific to see all types of people out there, from elite athletes like Matthew through to people who have to strive to complete the course at a walk. HSBC Round the Bays is all about enjoying a healthy day outdoors."

HSBC Round the Bays has been an annual event in Auckland since 1972, when it was initiated by the Auckland Joggers Club. The first run attracted 1,200 participants and in 2007 over 47,000 registered runners and an estimated 70,000 participants in total took part. The run begins in the city on Quay St and finishes on the waterfront at St Heliers Bay.

Funds raised by the event are dedicated to four children's charities, including the Gifted Kids programme.

HSBC Round the Bays is owned by Fairfax Media and the Auckland Joggers Club. Sponsors include HSBC, Provenco Technology, Coca-Cola Amatil New Zealand, Watercare Services Limited, and Alto.

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