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Strong para and junior lineups

Today, CHRIS COGDALE profiles the finalists for the Para Sports and Junior Sportsperson of the Year categories in the Wairarapa Times-Age Sports Awards.


Josh Taylor – Athletics

Josh Taylor represented New Zealand at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Berlin in June 2023 after outstanding results at national and regional events.

In the nation championships open para events, Taylor was third in the 100m, second in 400m, and third in the javelin, a national record for F20 para classification.

At the Special Olympics national summer games, he won gold medals in the shot put and 4x100m relay and silver in the 400m.

Taylor also competed in the senior men’s [non-para] grades at the Wellington senior track and fild meet, finishing fourth in the 100m and third in javelin and 200m.

Orlaith Geary – Swimming

Orlaith Geary competed in her first interschool swimming sports this year, swimming the 25m backstroke and the 25m freestyle, winning both.

This meant that Geary qualified to go to the Wairarapa primary school swimming sports.

There, she competed in the 25m backstroke and the 25m freestyle, earning top three placings in both races and achieving a four-second personal best in the freestyle.

Sam Neal – Athletics

Sam Neal won the discus and the shot put, setting a new record at the Wairarapa Secondary School Athletics Championships in March 2023. He was also first in the discus and second in the shot put at the Central South Wellington [CSW] Regional Athletics.

Neal was a member of the Whare Ahwina Whero four-person team who won the CSW 10 Pin Bowling Regional Event [his first team event] against 42 other teams from around the Wellington region and attended the CSW Swimming Event in Stokes Valley.

Thomas Morland – Basketball, Athletics

Tom Morland was a member of the Mana basketball team who finished runners-up in the division two competition at the 2022 New Zealand Special Olympics National Summer Games in Hamilton in December.

Morland played 11 games over the three games, with Mana progressing to the final, where they were beaten 40-22 by Tauranga. He regularly travels over the Remutaka hill for training and competition matches.

Morland was also a member of the Kuranui Senior A basketball team and athletics team.


Arden Watt – Scooter

Arden Watt is an eight-year-old scooter rider based at the Masterton skatepark.

He won the Australasian scooter championships for seven and under, and on the day he turned eight, he won the 10-and-under Australasian scooter championships in Napier.

Watt is one of two scooter riders in Wairarapa to be sponsored. He was spotted by Sleeper Scooters at age seven and is now their official junior rider. He practices for more than 15 hours a week.

Holly Monks – Archery

Holly Monks won her second national title with victory in the under-14 recurve championship contested over two days of shooting at the national championships.

Although only aged 10, Archery NZ rules stipulate Monks must compete in the under-14 grade — not that this has stopped her from winning every major competition she has entered this last year.

She won at the North Island youth, and the national indoor championships, setting national records, and the 2023 Wellington target championships, winning the under-14 recurve title.

Violet Fisher – Athletics, Football

Violet Fisher won the 300m and 800m and was part of the winning Solway College 4x100m relay team at the Wairarapa primary school championships. She was also second in the discus and qualified for the North Island championships in the 30m0, 800m, relay, and discus.

Fisher won the Year 8 Wairarapa cross country, was runner-up in the Wellington regionals, and sixth at the Nelson inter-regionals.

She also played football for the Solway College 1st XI as a primary student.

Wyatt Malcolm – Hockey

Wyatt Malcolm played as a goalkeeper for four teams in the winter season of 2022.

While attending Masterton Intermediate School [MIS], Malcolm played for the MIS A team, Kuranui College Mixed, Wairarapa under-13 representatives, and the under-14 NZAC Challenge team hosted by GoHockey and playing against Australia for one of two NZ boys teams.

Malcolm is also an exponent of Okinawan goju-ryu karate.

With many tournaments on hold since covid-19, he entered the only available tournament against another karate style [Mas Oyama Karate New Zealand Kyokushin Kaikan] and competed in Kumite [fighting] and won a bronze medal.

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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