Joseph Millar from Aquinas College (Tauranga) took out the sprint double in the Senior Boys grade at this year’s NZ Secondary Schools Track and Field and Road Race Champs. The 18-year-old from Opotoki won the 100m in 10.68sec and the 200m in 21.27sec.
Joseph Millar (left) on his way to victory in the 100 metres. Photo: Gary Nesbit
Winning the double has been a dream of Josephs for a few years. Last year he was first in the 200m and second in the 100m – the second placing last year made him all the hungrier to achieve the double. The editor caught up with the champ for the following interview the day after the meet.
How does it feel to be the senior boys 100m and 200m champ?
It’s a dream come true… It’s been a dream of mine for three years and just the way it happened as well, that I had to fight every second to get it, it wasn’t easily taken. I was exhausted by the end of it - I couldn’t do another race or another effort.
It’s not like some track meets - at this meet the 100m and 200m are quite close together…
It was quite difficult having to work in warm-ups and warm-downs in between races. It meant that I didn’t have a warm up or warm down. I had to keep limber in between and make a halfway point. I was only racing for 10 to 20 seconds at a time, but I don’t think that I stopped moving all day.
What was going through your mind between the finish of the 100m and the start of the 200m?
I was just buzzing. I couldn’t believe I’d done it. The 100m was the biggest barrier. Once I had won the 100m, I had the confidence that I could take out the 200m. Once I got into the 200m all I knew was that I had to complete the race.
What about the 200m time? Were you OK with it even though the wind speed disallowed the time as a record?
I didn’t believe in a million years that I had run the time that I did. I’m fine with the time, if anything it’s an indicator of what I can do. At one end that wind was (within the) legal limit, on the other hand it was the last race out of eight (this includes rounds, semis and finals for both 100m and 200m). I’m definitely looking to go under this time with a fresh set of legs and competition.
Run me through the 200m race - what went through your mind and when did you take the lead?
When I was standing in front of the blocks I was feeling really stiff, but at the same time I was buzzing and had to focus and really pull out a performance that I could be proud of. As soon as we were told “on your marks”, I put all that to the back of my mind, and just focussed on what I needed to do and got into the blocks and got ready.
I had the lead from the gun. I got a really good start and was leading through the first 100m. In the second 100m I got away a little bit more, I was definitely giving it everything to make it to the finish line. A huge amount of pain, hitting the wall with 50m to go – my legs just felt like concrete. It was excruciating pain just finishing the race (but) I didn’t want to lose the gold medal to Josh Hawkins who was chasing me really quick and putting on a lot of pressure. Without him putting all that pressure on me, I’m not sure that I would have run that time.
How soon did you know that you had run that time?
After the 200m I was quite disorientated. I was absolutely exhausted. I think Ryan Howe, who came third in the 100m, came running out shouting that I had smashed the record. I didn’t believe him and I had to walk into the results area and check it myself. A week before these nationals, I was struggling to get under 11 seconds and 22 seconds. I was out with an injury for six weeks and couldn’t do any acceleration work or lifting. It was a back injury. My back came right four days before the meet started.
What about your family and coach, how did they react?
I could hear my family shouting, getting louder and louder as I approached the line. My coach got really excited and actually passed out as I passed the finish line, he was so overwhelmed. Someone had to catch him and set him down. It was really humbling that I had that support and love.
What have you been doing to celebrate?
Today I headed off to the beach with my mates and we all spent the day out relaxing.
Do you think that you’ll run even faster shortly?
I’ll definitely run faster. While I was injured I was looking for alternative ways to train, which will benefit me in my build-up to the Athletics NZ National Champs in March.
You won the 100m and 200m 19-and-under grade titles at the Athletics NZ T&F Champs in March this year. You obviously perform well at the big meets when it counts…
I guess I do. When I’m at these meets I get really ruffled – really anxious, really nervous and not sure about myself. But then through the heats I start to feel good, then when I line up for the final I get a moment of clarity, where everything falls into place. Then I can convince myself that I’m going to win. It’s like holding a ball and you let go of it, you know 100 percent that it’s going to drop and nothing is going to stop it.
Do you think you’ll always be racing the double or do you think that at that some point you might specialise?
I enjoy them both equally, it depends where I’m running… I do perform a lot better in the 200m due to my speed endurance. In the 100m I still need to work on my acceleration to get better times. I find that as I start focusing on one, it leads to improvements on the other – as a result I find that they work very well together.
How much time do you spend training each week?
1.5 hours to two hours a session – two sessions a day six days a week. It’s all very specific training.
What got you into running track?
I was playing hockey and I decided that to get faster I would go to a track club – I did that for a season. Then the next season I’d had enough of getting up early on a Saturday morning and I decided that would be my last season playing hockey. Then I started getting encouragement from people who had seen me race.
What about influences as a sprinter - do you have any sports heroes?
For me it’s more about inspirational things, individual performances and stories that I get from any sportsperson when they tell you about what they have done and what they have felt. For a sportsperson it’s very hard to tell the story how you want to tell it.
Who is your coach and how long have you been with this coach?
Mike Corboy has been coaching me for four years.
What about school, studies and next year?
School’s now all over for me - I’ve finished NCEA level three. I have a scholarship through the Bay of Plenty Polytech doing a sports science course.
NZSSAA web site - results
Murray McKinnon's media release
NZ RUN.com coverage
Photos from the meet