The US-based Pakuranga one-lap specialist answers our Five Minutes with questions.
What is your best athletics quality?
Resilience, persistence, reliability, and never giving in. I always give of my best and leave it all on the track. You have good days and bad, while the good days can be great, it’s after the bad days when you really have to knuckle down and work. I’m a firm believer in the one percenters, going above and beyond simply showing up to training. I’m a team player, making the effort to come out and support my fellow athletes. I like to pass on my stories of lessons learnt in the sport to others.
Why would you encourage anyone to try athletics?
Roadies, flights, countries, sights, colours, sounds, races, faces, family, friends, foes, energy, exhaustion, passion, nervousness, relief, victory, loss, pride and love - some of the words I use to describe athletics. If that doesn't make you want to try athletics, I don't know what will.
Who was your first coach and how did they influence your career?
My mum was my first coach, and even today she continues to be part of my career.
She has a rich background in the sport and used to receive sprint coaching from Sylvia Potts. I started at Te Atatu Athletic Club aged five. Following that I moved to Waitakere, in pursuit of greater competition. There I met Roy Williams who coached me for long jump. Next, Roger Brickland at Eastern. However, my biggest influence would have to be Roy Mendonca, who I still train with at my local club Pakuranga when I return home during the off-season.
What are your athletics weaknesses?
Overdoing it. When you compete for such a long season in the US, you have to pace yourself with the training. I’m hardwired to think every session is my last, asking for another rep and running myself into the ground. It has taken some great coaching to transition my mind to look at the big picture and create goals to reach your ultimate target.
What is the funniest things you’ve seen on the track?
One training night at Pakuranga, a team member was handed the keys to turn on the spotlight on the far side on the track. While running up the hill the keys fell out of his pocket and disappeared into the grass. We looked with him for a time, but decided to go ahead and get started with training because it was getting late. The kid looked for these keys for three-quarters of the training session and waved at us each time we came around for each lap. He was known to be a little ditsy, which was why it was so funny, a classic.
What is your favourite athletics session?
My favourite athletics session would have to be 200m repeats on a New Zealand winter night in moderate rain down on the Pakuranga track. I like the rain as it relaxes me and allows the reps to flow. A post-session hot shower is always a great reward.
What is the greatest thing you've ever witnessed in an athletics stadium?
The greatest thing I have ever witnessed is Fred Kerley running the 400m final at NCAA Div 1 Regionals in Austin, Texas. It was 41c and he blew past some of the best competition in America to run 43.70. The previous day I had run against Fred in the 400m heat. Overall, I finished top 40 in the West US Region.
Who has been your toughest rival?
In my youth, I admired Tama Toki for being a tough passionate competitor. However, now in the American Athletic Conference my toughest rival is Trenten Beran - a senior from Cincinnati. He is a great friend and we hang out and chat together before and after races.
If you could star in another sport which sport would it be?
My grandfather, played for, coached and managed the NZ Kiwi Rugby League team and also the NZ Maori Rugby League team, so If I had the build for that sport. However, I can also imagine myself as a track cyclist, look out Cambridge!
What is your biggest regret?
My biggest regret was narrowly missing out on representing New Zealand in Oregon at the 2014 World U20 Championships. The qualifying time was 47.00 and I ran 47.17 - only 0.17 off what was needed. My dream was to make it to Oregon and be picked up on a scholarship at an American college. Missing out I almost walked away from the sport, only to later that year set a New Zealand Secondary Schools record of 46.67, which added fuel to the fire and extra motivation.
Who is the person you most admire?
When looking at people that I can relate to and are close to me on an athlete level, Bryce Robinson springs to mind. The University of Tulsa graduate had tremendous talent with PBs of 9.99 for the 100m and 20.30 for the 200m. I admire him because he was a mentor to me, being both approachable and understanding on and off the track,
What is your favourite movie and why?
I’m not really a fussy guy when it comes to movies the only genre I can’t deal with is horror. If I had to pick, it would be something starring Adam Sandler, I think he's a great actor.
When was the last time you looked at your athletics medals?
I actually have my medals hanging up on the wall at my house (in New Zealand) they are on three separate 3M hooks, so every night I’m there. However, that is only for three months out of the year due to my commitments at The University of Tulsa in Oklahoma.