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2008 Westpac Emerging Talent Finalists Named

2008 Westpac Emerging Talent Finalists Named

Auckland, 19 December 2008 – A young Kiwi surf sensation who has been making waves abroad in pro-women’s events and a junior world rowing champion are among the four finalists in the running to win a $25,000 Westpac sporting scholarship next year.

Paige Hareb, who finished the year creating Kiwi surfing history by qualifying for the elite World Dream Tour next year and Graham Oberlin-Brown, the World Under-23 Lightweight Single Scull rowing champion, have been joined by Chris Rahardja (karate) and Jossi Wells (skiing) as the four finalists for the 2008 Westpac Emerging Talent Award.

The quartet were among a group of 17 outstanding young New Zealand sporting achievers put forward for the Emerging Young Talent category, the winner to be revealed at the 2008 Westpac Halberg Awards in Auckland on February 03, 2009.
The Westpac Emerging Talent Award, being presented for the third time, is designed to identify and reward potential Olympic and World Champions. The Westpac Emerging Talent Award is limited to individual athletes who must not have competed at the Olympics or been a medallist at the Commonwealth Games or Open World Championship.

Star single-scull rower Emma Twigg won the Westpac Emerging Talent Award last year, after an outstanding year, when at still only 20, she won the World Under-23 Championship Single Scull and later went on to finish 6th in the World Senior Championship final. Shortly after receiving the award, she gained selection for the New Zealand single scull spot and competed at Beijing, missing out on the finals by 0.05s. She is currently preparing for the London Olympics in 2012.

The 17 youngsters representing 17 sports nominated for the 2008 Westpac Emerging Talent Award were: Liam Ackland (AFL), Earl Bamber (Motorsport), Luke Braid (Rugby), Gemma Dudley (Cycling), Dexter Dunn (Harness Racing), James Hamilton (Snowboarding), Paige Hareb (Surfing), Jessica Jonggowisastro (Badminton), Esther Keown (Athletics), Matthew Lack (Wheelchair Racing), Andrew Maloney (Yachting), Penelope Marshall (Swimming), Graham Oberlin-Brown (Rowing), Chris Rahardja (Karate), Allie Rout (Ice Skating), Yiftach Swery (Archery) and Jossi Wells (Skiing).

In the end the Voting Academy, which itself is stacked with high-performance experience, came up with the final four. Hareb (18) made Kiwi surfing history by qualifying for the elite 2009 World Dream Tour. Graham Oberlin-Brown (20) won the Lightweight Single Scull title at the Under -23 World Rowing Championship. Rahardja (16) became the youngest athlete to win a senior NZ Open or National Championship title in the history of Karate New Zealand and placed 5th equal in the Men’s Individual Kata event at the World Karate Championships. Wells (18) placed 2nd in the Slopestyle and 5th in the Halfpipe at the Winter X-Games, a prominent invite-only freeskiing event.

The Westpac Emerging Talent Voting Academy comprised – Mike Stanley, former NZ Rowing rep and CEO at the Millennium Institute; John Reid, former NZ cricketer and Senior Adviser Talent Development at SPARC; Chris Bullen, former NZ Badminton rep; Martin Toomey, Manager of High Performance at SPARC and Ron Cheatley, one of this country’s most successful elite cycling coaches, Vanessa Paun, SPARC’s Performance Consultant for Talent Identification and Development; Kereyn Smith, CEO at the New Zealand Academy of Sport in the South Island;

Mike Chu, NZRU High Performance Coaching Development Manager and Nigel Avery, former Commonwealth weightlifting gold medallist and current General Manager of Sport at the Millennium Institute. Between them they have significant high performance experience.

Last year the four finalists chosen by the same academy selected Emma Twigg (rowing), Danny Lee (golf), Brendon Hartley (motor sport) and Edward Dawkins (cycling) with Twigg the eventual winner of the award.

All four went on to bigger things on the world stage in 2008 with Lee winning the US Amateur Golf title, Twigg finishing 9th in the Women’s Single Scull at Beijing, Dawkins winning a bronze medal in the 1000m time trial at the Oceania Cycling Championships and Hartley finishing third in the British Formula 3 championship and officially test driving a Formula 1 car later in the year.
According to Halberg Trust CEO Graeme Taylor, the aim of the award “is to identify and assist a young athlete in their quest to become a future Olympic or World Champion and, hopefully, one day win the Halberg Award.”


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