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Hurunui Manu Champs Proves A Family Affair

It proved a family affair at the weekend’s Hurunui Manu Champs at the MainPower Amberley Pool, with two families of siblings: Will and Marcus Smallwood, and Hema and Tekaia Laxon, joining Jock Waghorn to go through to the Z Manu World Champs regional heat in Ōtautahi Christchurch in February.

Hurunui Council Customer Services Manager Naomi Woodham said style, form, highest splash and pop decibel level were considered by judges Mayor Marie Black, Cr Pauline White and Council officer Kerry Walsh in determining the winners.

Brothers Will and Marcus won the Youth section, with Will claiming a tight victory to first place with a 0.3 point lead ahead of Marcus.

“When it came to a month prior to the champs, we’d go in three to four times a week, mostly to the Amberley Pool and also to Jellie Park and local swimming holes,” Rangiora High student Will said. “We’d warm up and do some competition manus, trying to picture our form as we did it.

“We took turns to video each other and then we’d go over the videos.”

The hard work paid off.

““We were just doing something we really enjoy; we put some work into it and managed to get the results we were after. We stuck our heads down, and got on and did it,” said Will.

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For Hema, who was placed first in the Junior section, with brother Tekaia also going through on points, the secret of success was a lifetime of practice.

“I have been doing manus since I was little. I always try to beat my brothers and dad when we go swimming.”

Will said he and Marcus have already been watching the top competitors they will be coming up against in Christchurch.

“We’re aware of what’s coming in Christchurch. We’ve seen on Facebook and other social media and watched some of the pops and manus — and they’re looking pretty good.”

Mayor Marie Black said she was backing Hurunui “to the hilt” for the next round of manu champs.

“We’ve got the talent and the focus to take it through to the finish. We might be a small district in terms of our demographics, but that won’t be holding us back,” Mayor Black said.

The Ōtautahi Christchurch heat takes place February 9-11 at Jellie Park.

Results:

Junior Section (10-12 years):

  1. Hema Laxon, Winner.
  2. Jock Waghorn, Runner-Up in Junior section.

Youth Section (13-17 years):

  1. Will Smallwood, Winner
  2. Marcus Smallwood, Runner-Up

Adult section:

  1. Kerry Tremayne, Winner.

Spot Prize for Best Twist:

  1. Arai Youle. Winner

Overall winner:

Will Smallwood.

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