Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


New Zealand international race walker Alana Barber retires

Commonwealth silver medal-winning race walker Alana Barber has formally announced her retirement from the sport.

The 34-year-old, who represented her country at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and set 14 New Zealand race walking records, has decided to move on and start the next chapter of her life.

“It was hard decision to make because athletics had been such a huge part of my life,” explains Alana.

“The biggest motivation for me as an athlete has been the curiosity of seeing how fast I could go. Particularly over the past few years I’ve pushed myself as hard as possible and searched for ways of improving. I’ve put everything out there, but hand on heart I feel like I have no more to give.

“I just felt having come to the end of the Olympic cycle, it is the right time to retire.”

The daughter of Shirley Somervell, who finished seventh in the 800m at the 1974 Commonwealth Games, Alana featured as a two-lap runner in her youth but switched to competitive race walking at the age of 22 on the recommendation of her mum after picking up a knee injury running.

She made an immediate impact winning national silver and bronze race walking medals within a year of taking up the sport in 2010.

Relocating to England in 2012 she made a giant leap forward in her career in 2014 – scalping more than nine minutes from her 20km race walk PB.

However, a pivotal moment in her career came after opting to settle in Melbourne, Australia under the coaching guidance of Brent Vallance.

In 2015 she set three national 20km race walk records and made her debut in the Black Singlet finishing 18th in her speciality event at the World Championships in Beijing when ranked 50th and last going into the race.

The following year she fulfilled a life-long dream to compete at an Olympic Games, placing 35th in the 20km race walk at the Rio Games.

Alana enjoyed the best season of her career in 2018. At the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games she won a silver medal in the 20km race walk and the following month set a national record time of 1:31:32 in Taicang, China which still stands today.

She also appeared at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, finishing 27th in the women’s 20km race walk.

The arrival of the global pandemic made life tough for Alana. Separated from her Polish partner and coach, Damian Blocki for an 18-month period her ability to train and compete had been compromised.

This year she competed several times overseas but missed out on the auto qualifying standard for Tokyo.

Alana, who is currently completing a psychology degree, intends to stay connected to the sport and coaches a group of junior race walkers in South Auckland.

The Race Walking Auckland athlete, who won seven New Zealand race walking titles is current national record holder for 20,000m Walk (track) and 20km Race Walk road, looks back fondly at her career accomplishments.

“I’m really satisfied with what I achieved,” she says. “It was a dream come true to represent New Zealand and win a Commonwealth silver medal. I feel very fortunate to have travelled around the world, training with different groups learning about the variety of approaches to training. Using my experience from seeing how the best in the world train, I hope Damian and I can use our skills to help the next generation of athletes.”

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman'

The Guardian needed not one, but three reviews to do justice to Fennell's unsettling approach, which indicates exactly how ambiguous and controversial its message really is. More>>

Howard Davis: Jill Trevelyan's Rita Angus

Although Angus has become one of Aotearoa’s best-loved painters, the story of her life remained little known and poorly understood before Jill Trevelyan's acclaimed and revelatory biography, which won the Non Fiction Award at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards in 2009, and has now been republished by Te Papa press. More>>

Howard Davis: The Back of the Painting

Painting conservators are the forensic pathologists of the art world. While they cannot bring their subjects back to life, they do provide fascinating insights into the precise circumstances of a painting's creation, its material authenticity, and constructive methodology. More>>

Howard Davis: Black Panthers on the Prowl

A passionate and gripping political drama from Shaka King, this is an informative and instructive tale of human frailty that centers around the charismatic Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, who was murdered at the age of twenty-one during a police raid. More>>

Howard Davis: Controlling the High Ground

Stephen Johnson's raw and angry film not only poses important questions with scrupulous authenticity, but also provides a timely reminder of the genocidal consequences of casual bigotry and xenophobia. More>>

Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>

Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland