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Mallard: Rangitoto College sporting success

Rangitoto College achieves sporting success

Speech to Rangitoto College assembly

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Speech to Rangitoto College Assembly


Thank you for inviting me here today. I am delighted to be here to help you celebrate your school's outstanding sporting achievements. The talent on show today is exciting and represents a level of excellence that, if it continues to develop, will make New Zealanders proud for some time to come.

Rangitoto College is renowned for its sporting excellence. As a college, you have excelled in a wide range of sports, with 55 Rangitoto College students who have been national representatives or title-holders in sport this year. These students are great role models for the rest of the school. You send out strong messages to your peers about making healthy choices, and working hard to realise your potential. Rangitoto College is a shining example of what can be achieved through daring to dream, committing to a goal and sheer hard work.

This has never been more important. The Labour-led government is committed to building a more active and healthy society by encouraging participation in sport and physical recreation. Through our recently launched Mission-On campaign, we are committed to giving young people the tools to get active and make healthy choices.

As political leaders, we have to be able to practise what we preach. So, this week the Parliamentary Push Play Challenge began. At stake is the Push Play Golden Sneakers' trophy. The challenge involves Members of Parliament and press gallery journalists earning points for doing regular physical activity. It's fun and it backs up our drive to get more New Zealanders active.

Getting active for 30 minutes a day is not an issue for Rebecca Spence. In fact, to become a two-time Junior World Duathlon Champion and a World Junior Cycling Champion means you probably struggle to find 30 minutes in the day to rest. I can only imagine how many hours of physical activity you clock up each week - either training or competing.

I am really pleased to be here to present you with an award today, Rebecca. It is immensely satisfying and exciting to see young New Zealanders such as yourself set goals and work hard to achieve them, especially on the world sporting stage.

The qualities you have displayed in achieving these outstanding results are also very admirable - probably best summed up when you were brought down by another rider two kilometres from the finish line during the World Junior Road Cycling Championships in Belgium this year.

Though you were somewhat dazed, grazed and bloody, you got back on your bike and finished the race. That speaks volumes about your character and begins to explain why you have experienced the success you have to date.

Your results make for impressive reading.

You are unbeaten in all New Zealand wide and Auckland region Secondary School Senior Girl Triathlon and Duathlon events; and you were named New Zealand Secondary Schools Female Triathlete of the Year for 2005.

You were one of the youngest competitors to compete in the 2005 World Junior (Under 20) Triathlon Championships in Japan and placed second - an outstanding achievement.

In 2005 you also won the World Junior (Under 20) Duathlon Championship in Australia; in fact you were only one of two competitors from outside of a European country to gain a podium placing in any of the six elite female and male categories.

You repeated this victory this August in Canada at the 2006 World Junior Duathlon Championships, where you finished over three minutes ahead of the second place getter - a staggering margin at a world level.

As if this wasn't enough, two weeks later, you went on to win the World Junior Time Trial Cycling Championships in Belgium - your second ever time trial event.

You are one of a select group of only five New Zealanders who have won a World Cycling Championships title and thereby given the honour of wearing the coveted 'Rainbow' cycling top. Not bad going at the age of 17.

So Rebecca, it gives me great pleasure to present you with this much deserved award. You are a formidable athlete; New Zealand is lucky to have your talent. I look forward to watching your career go from strength to strength.


ENDS

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