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Wednesday January 24, 2018

SPORT

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One hundred kilometres to battle poverty Long distance doesn’t scare the athletic team of four Welly Queen. Between the four of them, the team members have walked or run over 290 kilometres last year. Sophie Chen, Lucy Liu, Jennifer Ma and June Cui live in the Wellington area, but they all met at the Great Lake Relay in Taupo last February. They quickly bonded over their passion for trail-running and their desire to contribute to the fight against poverty. Now they have decided to take on the ultimate fitness challenge: Oxfam Trailwalker, held on March 10 and 11 in Whakatane. The event consists of a 50-kilometre course to complete in under 18 hours or 100-kilometre to complete in under 36 hours, to raise funds for Oxfam New Zealand’s work in developing countries in the Pacific. It is one of the charity’s biggest fundraisers, with 176 teams participating this year. “We feel very fortunate to live in New Zealand, a country with a stable economy and fabulous environment. We are also aware that there are still many people around the world living below the poverty line without access to clean water, basic

healthcare and education,”says team leader Sophie Chen from Upper Hutt. Sophie challenged herself to the endurance race Tor des Geants in Italy in September and completed 148 kilometres and 9500 metres of elevation gain in 55 hours. “Running is contagious. So is sharing. It dawned on me that regardless how of little we share, we are elevating vulnerable people’s living conditions”, adds team member Lucy Liu of Grenada, who completed the 80-kilometre Round the Mountain race in Taranaki in 11 hours 30 last year. The Welly Queen team have signed up for the 100-kilometre course. While they all have taken part in long-trail running in the past, they want to make sure they are prepared for such a long distance. Each team member has different levels of experience and fitness, so they are determined to look out for each other to cross the finish line together. With a target time of 24 hours, Sophie, Lucy, Jennifer who lives in Tawa and June from Porirua have been training together since November to make sure they’re physically ready to hit the trail for a full day and night. Welly Queen are determined to reach the

Laykold Cup Track Cycling Carnival wide open

The Welly Queen team with Lucy Liu, June Cui, Jennifer Ma, Sophie Chen. PHOTO: Supplied

fundraising target of $5000 to provide support to people in the Pacific. “None of us have any local fundraising experience in New Zealand, but we believe that our passion, planning and

execution will surely help us beat the target”, says Sophie.  For more information, visit oxfamtrailwalker.org.nz/otw18/teams/wellyqueen.

Free buses to Cigna Round the Bays fun run Participants of the Cigna Round the Bays fun run on February 18 will be able to catch a free bus from the region into the city. Sport Wellington has organised a free bus from Wairarapa, Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt, Johnsonville, Porirua and Kapiti. The buses are scheduled to arrive in

Wellington in time for the start of the 6.5km events; the run/walk, Mitre 10 Buggy Walk, and the Active Families category where children under the age of 12, accompanied by an adult, can ride their scooters. Following the event, buses will depart from Kilbirnie Park (the finish line) at 12.30pm.

Sports talk

with Jacob Page

Netball’s golden goose flying away Juniors competing at the Laykold Cup last year. PHOTO: Supplied

Ninety years after the Laykold Cup was first presented, the 2018 edition of Wellington’s biggest track cycling race will take place January 28 at the Wellington Velodrome. Now taking the form of a 10km Open Scratch Race, the Laykold Cup is one of the highlights of a full day of racing which also includes the Poneke Plate for women, the Stayers Cup for masters and the Junior Wheelrace Grand Prix. Cash pr izes a re up for g rabs o n eve r y r a c e , fo r eve r y g r a d e. Last year’s Laykold Cup winner Carne Groube, a rising star on road and track, will not be back to defend his title so the trophy is wide open. A Wellington rider has not won it since 2011 when Lee Evans sprinted to victory. The Hataitai local will be taking part and with his focus being on sprinting, he could win it again providing he can get to the finale with some energy left. Newtown’s Pat Crowe-Rishworth leads the other local favourites, and has come close before, preferring long distance breakaways.

Others in the mix will be under 19 road specialist Henry Levett, and experienced riders Matt Sharland of Johnsonville, Grant Perry and Brooklyn’s Gideon Burke. Grace Saywell defends her Poneke Plate but Bridget Olphert and Zoe Perry will be aiming for an upset. Out-of-town riders could also make things hard, especially Sophie-Leigh Bloxham who won in 2015 and 2016. The Junior Handicapped Wheelrace Grand Prix is held over one kilometre (three laps) and is open to all riders under 17. Qualifying heats are run in age groups, with all riders coming together for a final, with younger riders generally given a good headstart. Jackson Moyle won the 2017 race ahead of Millie Donald and Lucy Fulljames.  The event kicks off at midday, January 28 at the Wellington Velodrome in Hataitai, entry is just $5 for juniors, $7 for everyone else. Spectators go free.

The Silver Ferns seem to be missing an opportunity to raise their profile. I pride myself at being aware of a large variety of sport going on in the world but I must confess I had no idea that an international netball series was starting. To be honest, with the exception of Maria Folau, I’m not sure I could name many starting Ferns’ players these days. Ironically, New Zealand lost the international to England, a sign of the times that other nations are catching up in a sport that has, for so long, been dominated by Australia and New Zealand. I was slightly embarrassed that I did not know the game was happening but it’s worth pondering why? We are currently in the midst of a women’s sport evolution. Rugby, cricket, football and mixed martial arts have been instrumental in women having a more visible presence to the public while netball appears to have gone backwards. Player depth seems to be minimal and interest seems to have lagged.

The trans-Tasman netball competition was a flop, largely because New Zealand franchises were not competitive. The new national competition appears like a step backwards when most other sports are rapidly progressing when it comes to the women’s portion of their sport. These are potentially tricky waters to navigate for those within Netball New Zealand. How can the country’s most popular girls sport keep their players going through the age-groups to become competitive on the court and engaging to those watching it? The Laura Langman saga where arguably our best player has been barred from playing in the black bib, has not been a good look and is potentially troublesome. The sport needs an injection of a charismatic, world class player that can be the poster girl for the foreseeable future. Without a turnaround in fortunes, netball may find themselves missing a golden opportunity to cash-in on the mood of the sporting world.

Independent Herald 24-01-18  

Independent Herald 24-01-18

Independent Herald 24-01-18  

Independent Herald 24-01-18