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Looking back on some of our best

With the sporting year winding down, it’s time to reflect on some of the highs and lows of Wairarapa sports, starting on a positive note with some of the individual high achievers over the past 12 months.

Top of the list goes to the supreme award winner at the Wairarapa Times-Age Sports Awards, Emma McLeod. The under-19 cricket international underlined her massive potential with a rapid-fire 59 against Rwanda at the Under-19 T20 World Cup and followed that up with 53 on debut for the Central Hinds. Last week, McLeod broke new ground, becoming the first player to score a century, and she did it twice, leading St Matthew’s to national championship honours.

If cricket isn’t enough, the talented 17-year-old has also been selected for the NZ under-21 hockey squad and was a member of the Wellington premier champion Dalefield side and the St Matthew’s team that won the Manawatū Intercity secondary school championship. A long career at the top level in whichever sport she chooses would not surprise!

Staying with the region’s youth, the multi-talented Sovaia Sabutu achieved what is understood to be a first for Netball Wairarapa, representing NZ Secondary Schools in Australia. Maggie Shields also shone at netball, being included in a Central Zone training camp, but it was softball where she represented New Zealand in the inaugural U15 World Cup in Japan.

Daisee Omundsen and Brooke Miller wore the silver fern at the Oceania Junior Boxing Champs, bringing home gold and silver medals, respectively.

Promising swimmer Ava Wilson was selected to represent Aotearoa at the New South Wales Open Water Championships in Sydney, and Boston Moylan represented the country at the IFMA World Youth Muaythai Championships in Turkey.

Vanessa Taylor is another with achievements in two sports, selected for the NZ U18 football development squad and representing Central Districts [CD] in the U19 cricket tournament along with McLeod, Olivia Clark, and Macy Lyford, while in rugby, Xanthe Somerville was selected for the Hurricanes Women’s U18 development squad

Wairarapa College’s Cohen Scott was selected for the national U18 hockey squad, Samuel Payne and Angus Jaspers represented CD at the boys U19 national tournament, and Rathkeale’s Will Cole made the U18 Maori Nga Whatukura Boys rugby team. Cole, Johnny Falloon, and Charlie Carroll all made the Hurricanes’ U18 squad.

At the highest level, Dane Lett continued his remarkable run for the Black Sticks and has now played 111 tests, including the Olympic Games and World Cups. Not far behind is ex-Waicol girl Megan Hull, co-captain of the Women’s Black Sticks, with 75 caps. The 2024 Paris Games are sure to be on their radars, but both teams have tricky qualification tournaments to navigate.

Kerry Mountcastle and Ben Campbell gave local sports fans a rare 10 minutes to relish, with victories in two professional tour events in November. Mountcastle won the Gippsland Super 6, securing his place in the big events on the Aussie Tour, and Campbell sunk a 15ft birdie putt on the final hole to win the Hong Kong Open, his first Asian Tour success.

Josh Taylor proudly wore the silver fern at the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin, running home with two medals – a silver and a bronze.

Sarah Linton won a team’s silver medal and was the sixth-best woman at the 2023 world barefoot waterskiing championships in Australia.

Harry Kent overcame a serious bout of illness and pressed his way to two gold medals in the Men’s Open and Masters U95kg Bench Press at the World Powerlifting Champs in Rome.

Brothers Benedict and Daniel van Woerkom won bronze medals for New Zealand in a major indoor hockey international tournament in Malaysia.

James Inwood and Debbie Donald did Athletics and Cycling Masterton proud, wearing the silver fern in world championships. Inwood contested the World 24-hour Championships in Taiwan, and Donald, who is now resident in Western Australia, contested the World Half-Marathon Champs in Latvia.

Douglas Villa footballer Tremaine Albrett-Rimene represented the Cook Islands at the Pacific Games in Solomon Islands, coming on as a substitute and scoring the late winner in the 2–1 victory over Tonga.

National championship honours went to drag racer Dwane Garrett, who won the 2022-23 Top Door Slammer National Championship in his ‘Torquing Heads’ Chev Camaro.

Our youngest achiever, though, was probably Carterton’s Vinnie Edwards, who won the 9–11 years trail [110scc] class at the New Zealand Mini Motocross Nationals in Canterbury.

And to finish on a horsey note, three-year-old filly Pennyweka raked in the money for veteran trainer Jim Wallace and the big syndicate of locals, doing the NZ Oaks and Australian Oaks double.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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