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Waicol paddlers hit their marks

By Gary Caffell

From primary school through to secondary school, years of practising and playing canoe polo has paid off for five Wairarapa College students.

They have been selected in New Zealand under-18 teams which will contest the Oceania championships in Palmerston North in April.

It is the second national selection for Abbie Sawkins (year 13) who was named in the women’s under-18 A team and first time selection into the women’s under 18 B squad for fellow year 13s Jessica Forbes and Roslyn Gray and year 11 Mia Thomas.

Forbes has also been named captain of that team with Thomas as vice captain.

Year 13 Alex Hare has been named in the under-18 men’s team.

In all 12 New Zealand squads will compete at the Oceania event from April 22-24, six men’s and six women’s.

The Wairarapa College contingent need to raise $1500 to be able to compete and they are working hard to cover that cost.

All of the students were ecstatic to be named in the national teams and saw it as the culmination of years of dedication and trainings.

Each of them have been playing since primary school and went through an intensive training programme leading up to their national selection.

Thomas said they had been attending training up to four times a week, including early morning fitness sessions and they also had to attend a number of selection camps.

In fact, they had not had a weekend free since the end of January.

Gray said she was relieved to hear she had been named in a national side, something which had been a goal since she was in year 10, and Hare also expressed his delight.

For him it made the hearing of the alarm clock going off at 5am easier to accept!

The selection of the five Wairarapa College players and also of other present or former members, Carl Duncan (men’s open A), Kyzen McDonald (men’s open B) and Ryan Stevens (men’s under-21 B), for the Oceanias is also wonderful news for local club, Wairarapa Paddlers, who have been a big part of their canoe polo education.

In addition they have one of their leading administrators, Anita Sharratt, as part of the New Zealand management team while coach Michael Ross, who has played a key role in the development of most of the players mentioned above, has been nominated for a New Zealand Canoe Polo award.

Ross has held the coaching role for five years.

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