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Starzynski taking first step to Youth Olympics

Mikael Starzynski . . . ranked number one in 400m for his age group. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

ATHLETICS
GARY CAFFELL
Wairarapa College head boy Mikael Starzynski has made the 16-strong New Zealand team named for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games Compulsory Trial in Port Vila, Vanuatu from May 9-11.
This unusually-named meet is seen as the first step towards “nomination eligibility” for this year’s Youth Olympics, to be held in Buenos Aires in October.
To make the Port Vila competition, athletes had to achieve a certain performance standard in their respective events which, in Starzynki’s case, was a time of 51.14 seconds for the 400m.
And with ANZ able to choose just the one male and female athlete for any one event, national rankings became crucial in the selection process too.
Starzynski’s best time came at the New Zealand track and field championships in Hamilton last month when he officially went under the 50-second mark for the first time, clocking 49.89 in comfortably winning the gold medal in the Under-18 category.
Before that, his personal best was 50.12 clocked at this year’s Wairarapa secondary school championships at the Pugh Sports Bowl. He also returned a time of 50.27 at the northern region championships at Papakura last December.
His Hamilton effort put him on top of the national rankings for his age group, shading John Gerber of Canterbury, 50.30, Trent Campbell of Waikato-Bay of Plenty, 50.61, and Jack East of Otago, 50.73.
Coached by his father Andrew, Starzynski is aiming to get into the “low 49s” at Vanuatu where he sees the strength of the competition being such that most athletes will be looking to clock personal best times.
“It’s all about being at your best on the day and hopefully that will happen,” he said.
Looking farther ahead, Starzynski says that while 400m will always be a pet distance, he is anticipating competing over 800m more often next year in which he has already registered a slick one minute, 59.81 seconds.
But there is little chance of him combining athletics with another of his favourite sports, football, as he has decided to give away the latter as he builds his career on the track.

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