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Josh strikes gold in golden week

By Jake Beleski

[email protected]

Josh Taylor was nervous about competing at last weekend’s national secondary schools’ track and field championships, but a quick-thinking teammate knew exactly how to fix that.

As Josh, a 15-year-old Wairarapa College student, was about to throw the discus in his first event, a teammate said if he threw it more than 10m he would shout him KFC.

He proceeded to throw a personal best of 11.35m and picked up a bronze medal, which was the first of four medals he would collect at the competition held at Waitakere in Auckland.

Josh has an intellectual impairment, meaning he competes in the para division in these events.

His success in the discus was followed by silver in the shot put and two golds in the 200m and 400m.

Josh’s mother, Melody Taylor, said he had gotten over his early nerves after the first event.

“Once he got up on that podium and saw what it was all about he thought it was pretty cool.

“He had shot put in the afternoon and got a silver for that, and he actually said to me later that night ‘I’m going for gold tomorrow, mum’, and he went out and killed it on Sunday.”

Josh is crazy about sports, with his main passions including rugby and stock cars.

He recently started taking athletics more seriously, but had always shown potential in running events, she said.

“He’s been training properly for probably the last 12 months or so.

“Prior to that, he did well at intermediate — he was regional cross country champion last year.”

It had become a matter of balancing Josh’s passions for different sports.

“He’s always been a good runner but he’s totally focused on rugby.

“Rugby is the passion but we saw he had a bit of potential and took him along to Masterton Athletics Club.”

It was hoped Josh’s success would show that there were opportunities for children with disabilities to follow their passions.

“Not many kids like Josh get those opportunities to go out and do that sort of thing.

“The number of people that were encouraging him, offering words and support and genuinely pleased for him was amazing.”

The secondary school success was only one part of what had been a “pretty awesome week”, after he also picked up the award for sport and PE at Waicol’s prizegiving on Wednesday.

There were already events on Josh’s radar for next year, with the athletes with disabilities competition and North Island secondary schools both held early in the year.

“We keep encouraging the fact that if he keeps doing athletics over summer, come winter he’ll be fit and ready to go for rugby,” Melody said.

“He’s got a pretty competitive nature — I’ll keep pushing it as long as I can because the potential is there to go a bit further.”

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