For the second year in a row, Rebekah Greene has won the senior girls race at the NZ Secondary Schools Cross Country Champs. She says “I was really happy to have won the cross country two years in a row - it was a good way to end my years of secondary schools cross country.”
The Head Girl from St Hilda's Collegiate in Dunedin won the four kilometre race in Ashburton by over one minute from Rangiora’s Jaye Atkin. She led a 130 strong senior girls field from the beginning and stretched her lead to record a winning time of 13min 43sec. “I was quite surprised during the race to get a lead early. I thought we would have been in a bunch for longer. But it was a good course and really enjoyable.”
Her coach Jim Baird says “She’s a very high achiever and she wants to compete at the highest level that she can compete at.”
Recently she received the Athletics Otago Athlete of the Year Award.
She started her sporting career as a gymnast and was competing at national level, but at 11 years of age she turned her focus to athletics and competed at the Colgate Games.
Her coach says “It wasn’t until she reached the Girls Year 9 Grade at New Zealand Secondary Schools level that she really started to fire.”
At the 2009 New Zealand Secondary Schools Cross Country in Nelson she came third in the Senior Girls race. The following year on the Waikanae course she recorded her first win in the Senior Girls grade. Another top performance in recent years was finishing second in the World Secondary Schools Cross-Country Championships in Slovakia.
Her coach over the last seven years says that she is a very natural track runner. In July 2010 she broke a 29-year-old New Zealand record with 4min 18.90sec, when she qualified for the 1500m final at the World Junior Track & Field Championships in Moncton, Canada.
The Hill City Club athlete also won the New Zealand women's 19 1500m title at Dunedin in March and was runner-up in the 800m. She holds New Zealand records in the women's 16 800m and 1500m and 16 Otago records from 400m to 3000m.
The 17-year-old leads a very busy life and this last weekend was no exception. Directly after collecting her cross country awards she rushed off to catch a plane to Auckland and a connecting flight to Paris to meet up with the Athletics New Zealand 2011 European Development Squad starting out on a 4 week European tour. She says “The tour will be a good opportunity to get international race experience and race in some high quality fields.”
Full Results and event web site: http://nzssaa.org.nz/
Photos from the event: http://www.nesport.co.nz/eventinfo.php?eventID=1382