Barefooters eye world champs
Kelly O’Donnell on her way to taking second place in the nationals.
Ryan Groen in action on Lake Inspiration during the national champs.
A trio of Massey University students have secured top places in the national Barefoot Waterski Champs and a place in the development squad for the world champs in February next year.
First-year students Ryan Groen and Kelly O’Donnell placed second in the mens’ and womens’ senior divisions respectively last week. Stephanie Hamblyn, who completed two years of her degree at Palmerston North but is now taking a break from study to undertake some practical farm work, took first place in the womens’ section.
Mr Groen, originally from Wellington, opted to study at the Palmerston North campus due to ease of access to the purpose-built Lake Inspiration barefoot waterskiing facility at Otaki. The second placing is his best to date, with his sights now set on training and barefoot skiing at least twice weekly in preparation for the world championships, which will be held in Otaki.
Both Mr Groen and Ms O’Donnell, who is from Rotorua, are members of the University’s Academy of Sport, which assists elite athletes by providing scholarships and support. Ms Hamblyn was also a member of the Academy, but has returned to Hawke’s Bay this year. The national champs were held in Otaki from 2 to 6 to April.