Gus Wakeling in action during his last year at Wairarapa College in 2016. PHOTO/FILE

HOCKEY

JAKE BELESKI
jake.beleski@age.co.nz

Former Wairarapa College student Gus Wakeling’s strong hockey form down south has paid off in a big way.

Wakeling has been selected to attend a New Zealand under-21 development camp in Hawke’s Bay from July 16-20.

The former Dalefield player moved down south last year to attend university, and said he was “humbled” to be selected to attend the camp.

“I found out on Monday through an email from the high-performance person at New Zealand hockey.

“When I found out I was pretty humbled by it – it’s pretty cool to be selected to be part of the camp.”

Wakeling is no stranger to national honours, having previously represented the Junior Black Sticks.

He was captain of the Waicol side that won the Wellington secondary schools premier 1 title in 2016, making it back-to-back triumphs after they also won in 2015.

Last month he was part of the Canterbury side that attended the national under-21 tournament and finished fourth out of eight teams. He knew that tournament would be an important stepping stone to potential higher honours.

“It’s pretty awesome but at the same time I still look at it as still being a long way to go.

“I knew throughout the under-21 tournament in Hamilton that the selectors would be there.

“It’s always in the back of your mind, but I was just focused on playing good hockey for Canterbury and seeing what would happen from there.”

Later this year there is the Sultan of Johor Cup – the annual international under-21 tournament held in Malaysia.

There is also a test series against Australia in December, so Wakeling has plenty of motivation to make his time at the upcoming development camp count.

“Making the squad for the under-21s would be my main goal.

“Making the Canterbury side for the National Hockey League would be pretty awesome as well.”

Wakeling said it took a while to get used to the different styles of play teams were using in Canterbury, but he found his groove.

“I’d say it’s a lot more attacking and aggressive hockey down here than when I played for Dalefield.

“There’s really high standards and I’m still learning.”

Wakeling is also part of the Pathway to Podium programme, a nationwide talent development programme helping emerging athletes and coaches be better prepared for the demands of a life in high performance sport.

He had attended a camp in Napier, and said it was helping him develop as a person, as well as an athlete.

“We’ve just had a camp up in Napier and we had about six or seven coaches that focused in on more technical skills and we had two trainings a day. We also had nutrition workshops and mental skills as well, so you get a bit of everything which is pretty cool.”

The development camp is a start, and all going well it will lead to bigger and better things for Wakeling and his hockey career.