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Stars in his eyes

Max Spencer, who has raced into a lucrative US university scholarship, winning the senior boys’ 800m at last year’s national secondary schools championships. PHOTO/FILE

Spencer strikes full scholarship with US university


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Promising Wairarapa athlete Max Spencer has raced into a lucrative scholarship at a leading American university.

The former Rathkeale College pupil has signed a ‘full ride’ US college athlete scholarship deal with the prestigious Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.

The scholarship includes full coaching and support services, meeting and training costs, full medical cover, and is over five years rather than the usual four-year deal.

Northeastern is a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1 College, and Spencer will come under the wings of a specialised coaching team, which includes a coach of a 1500m Olympic finalist.

The racing schedule features Ivy League universities, Harvard, and Yale.

Part of Spencer’s training will be done in Florida.

Spencer is ranked at No 5 in New Zealand over his favoured distance of 800m.

He has posted a personal best of one minute, 49.57 seconds, which will have him ranked No 1 on Northeastern’s middle-distance roster.

Spencer has been in excellent form over the summer, winning the National Secondary Schools 800m championship.

He hopes to carry on that form at this weekend’s national championships, where he will contest the open men’s 800m and the 4x400m relay as part of the Wellington Under-20 team.

Spencer is confident of a good showing at the nationals, after a month of training over the summer with two-time Olympic 1500m medallist Nick Willis.

Spencer said it was fantastic training with Willis. “He was so really inspirational, and he was so humble in passing on information.”

Although the 800m is the focus, “the 1500m is on the radar, as it is easier to go out in distance, rather than shorten the distance”, he said.

In the meantime, Spencer will focus on the 800m, as his “lactate tolerance is quite high and that is important to be competitive at the distance”.

Spencer is a two-time winner of the Wairarapa Secondary Schools Sportsperson of the Year, in 2016 and 2017.

Academically, Spencer hasn’t decided what to study yet. He is tossing up between medicine or engineering, and he will “leave the decision until as late as possible”.

“Northeastern runs a very robust academic programme, and has an acceptance rate of 19 per cent, so is very hard to get into”.

Spencer will travel to Boston in late July.

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