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Wellington 800m runners collect a haul of medals

Wellington 800m runners collect a haul of medals at Senior Track and Field Nationals

No fewer than five Wellingtonians stood on the podium to be presented with medals after competing 800m events at the New Zealand Track and Field championships in Hamilton over the weekend.

All were teenagers competing in U20 and U18 events.

Kelsey Forman won the U20 event at a hot Porritt Stadium in 2 minutes 14.31 seconds, with Tessa Hunt winning the U18 event in an even quicker time of 2 minutes 13.77 seconds

“I didn’t expect to win,“ Hunt said. “But with 400m to go, I felt strong. It gets to come down to who is the better sprinter.”

Hunt was that better sprinter.

Forman was happy. She doesn’t run 800m very often as she prefers longer distances. At the 2015 New Zealand Track and Field championships in Wellington she broke an U17 NZ steeplechase record, also a U20 Wellington record, clocking 6min 52.72 sec.

“I never do 800m – I prefer the 1500m,” she said. “But I`m pretty happy.”

But, like Hunt, she powered her way down the home straight to win well – and also won her preferred 1500m event for her second gold medal.

Sisters Lucy and Izzy Hegan were both 5th this year, with Lucy Hegan clocking 2min 16.65 sec, just 0.02 outside her best in the U18 event. Izzy Hegan competed in the U20 event.

In the U18 men’s event, Max Spencer picked up a silver and Sam Hyde-Smith a bronze, both in personal best times, both going under 1 minute 57 seconds for the first time.

Spencer was ‘stoked’ to come second in 1 minute 56.03, just behind Canterbury’s Nick Moulai, who dipped below 1 minute 55 seconds.

“I knew I was up for a medal,” he said. “I’m really rapt”.

He said he decided to specialise and just do the 800m at this year’s nationals – and he was pretty happy with that decision, after getting mid 1.56’s in previous events. He’s off to the Australian

Track and Field Nationals in two weeks and is looking to drop his time further to 1 minute 55 seconds.

“There’s so much competition in Australia, so to go to Australia with a personal best here is fantastic.”

Hyde-Smith, who clocked 1minute 56.76 seconds, was surprised at his time, but hoped for a medal.

“I didn’t expect that, but I was definitely aiming for it,” he said. He is also going to Australian Nationals, but is competing in longer events.

In the senior event, Hector Farmer clocked 1 minute 53.78 seconds for fifth. He was just outside his personal best time, set in the heats where he was the first qualifier. He also won the event at the Porritt Classic in February.

To come away with a personal best and to make the final was my main goal,” he said. “Onwards and upwards.”’

Josh Nairne went even faster in the U20 event, clocking 1 minute 53.58 seconds for silver. It was a big personal best time for him and just 0.02 seconds behind the winner.

Nairne will also be competing with many in the Wellington team at the Australian nationals.

“I’ve been feeling really good,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to the experience. Hopefully I`ll come back with a really good time.”

Wellington’s team manager Charlie Nairne was pleased with the 800m performances, with Hunt’s personal best for the win one of many highlights.

“That was a really hard race. We weren’t expecting to get that many medals in the 800m.”

He attributed the performances to good coaches and good coaching in the region.

“Good coaches mean good performances.”


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