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07 Emerging Talent Winner Goal For 2012 Olympics

2007 Emerging Talent Winner Sets Goal For 2012 Olympics

Auckland, 16 December 2008 – The 2012 London Olympics can’t come soon enough for young Kiwi rowing star Emma Twigg.

The 21 year old Cambridge-based sculler has just returned from a post-Beijing line up of dream races that would normally be beyond her reach, more determined than ever to succeed at the highest level.

Last year Twigg, then still only 20, won the World Under-23 Championship Single Scull and later went on to finish 6th in the World Senior Championship final.

Her outstanding form last year also culminated in winning the 2007 Westpac Emerging Talent Award at the Westpac Halberg Awards early this year. The award carries a $25,000 scholarship to assist a young athlete in fulfilling their performance goals by funding training, equipment and/or travel costs for overseas competitions. But on the night, Westpac announced her scholarship prize of $25,000 had increased to $40,000.

“I was blown away, it was such an incredible prize,” she says. “The scholarship meant this year I could focus entirely on rowing and compete in international races I couldn’t possibly get to last year,” she says.

The talented youngster quickly started fulfilling the aims of the Westpac Emerging Talent Award when she gained selection for the New Zealand single scull spot at Beijing where she finished a credible 9th.

“Competing at the Olympics was an amazing experience and something I will remember for the rest of my life,” she says. “I’ve learned it’s nothing like World Champs. People bring something quite special to the Olympics. You can see they are giving it everything they’ve got.” And while she was “devastated at the time,” after missing the finals by 0.05s, she says “the whole experience makes me want to excel even more.”

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Twigg has just returned from three months abroad where she was based in London and trained at the London Rowing Club. As part of her trip, Emma competed in the Head of the Charles regatta held in Boston, the Armada Cup in Switzerland, spent a week in Portugal training at a High Performance Centre then had a spell in Amsterdam where she trained with the national team and did some long distance trials. “The trip was really worthwhile,” she says. “I ended up doing a lot of racing and won a couple of really good regattas.”

Twigg says the Westpac scholarship “allowed me to travel overseas and race against some big names, which I wouldn’t have been able to do this time last year.” Emma says she was able to train with international rowers and look at their different approaches to training and technique. “I’ve picked up a lot of new ideas,” she says. “Now it’s back to Lake Karapiro to put it all into practice.”

Emma says her main aim now is to win gold at the London Olympics in 2012. “Everything I do in the next three years will be geared towards that.”

The Westpac Emerging Talent Award, in its third year, is limited to individual athletes who must not have achieved success at elite international level (Olympic, Commonwealth Games etc).

This year 17 youngsters representing 17 sports have been nominated for the 2008 Westpac Emerging Talent Award. They are: 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).

The Voting Academy, which itself is stacked with high-performance experience, will come up with the four finalists, the winner to be named at the 2008 Westpac Halberg Awards Dinner in Auckland on February 3, 2009.

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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