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Paddlers celebrate medal haul

New Zealand under-18 women’s player Jessica Forbes (No 1 in grey) blocks a throw against the New Zealand under-21 women’s B team.

By Jake Beleski

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There were medals galore for Wairarapa College students at the Oceania Canoe Polo Championships last weekend.

Five Waicol students represented New Zealand in the under-18 divisions at the event, held at Centennial Lagoon in Palmerston North.

Abbie Sawkins (Year 13) brought home a gold medal for her efforts in the women’s under-18 A side, while Roslyn Gray (Year 13), Jessica Forbes (Year 13) and Mia Thomas (Year 11) won silvers with the women’s under-18 B team.

Alex Hare (Year 13) also claimed a silver medal as part of the men’s under-18 B team.

The women’s under-18 A team beat the New Zealand B side 11-1 in the final, while on the men’s side the A team also triumphed over the B side, 4-3.

Hare said winning silver was a pleasing result, but also rued a missed opportunity.

“In the final we kept it to 3-3 at fulltime against the A team, and then we lost in extra time.

“We were pretty unlucky to not get the gold.”

He said they played about nine matches over the three-day event, and had been training since September last year to get themselves ready for the competition.

It was the first time he had come up against international opposition, and he was thrilled to get the opportunity to test himself against high-quality players.

“That was a first for me and it was a very high level . . . it was great.

“It’s good to test yourself against those guys.”

Goals had been set before heading to Palmerston North, but gaining experience was the main priority, he said.

“You’re always going for gold but just to learn and hopefully play at a high level.”

Hare said the quality coaching they received was the reason Waicol was producing so many successful canoe polo players.

“We actually have a lot of good players that come back and help us and teach us.”

Local club, the Wairarapa Paddlers, had extra reason to celebrate as three other present or former members also enjoyed success at the competition.

Carl Duncan was part of the senior New Zealand A team that dominated the open competition, eventually beating the New Zealand B side 7-0 in the final.

Kyzen McDonald was in that B side, while Ryan Stevens was in the under-21 B team that picked up a bronze medal.

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