Photo credit: James Watt
The Hill City long-distance runner regained the New Zealand 10,000m title after a six-year gap in Auckland earlier this month (February). Here the Christchurch-based 30-year-old offers a taste of his athletics background by responding to our Five Minutes With questions.
What is your best athletics quality?
My love of running. There are many times when I think I could have left the sport due to injury or periods out of form. The fact that I just love getting out on the hills for a run is the main reason I do it every day.
Why would you encourage anyone to try athletics?
Athletics is great for developing the fundamentals of sport. The athletics community is also very diverse and if you are involved in the sport, it is easy to make friends with people across the world.
Who was your first coach and how did they influence your career?
Richard Barker was my first coach. I had a very nice teacher Jon Linyard who encouraged me to focus on running as a sport when I was 10 and who first introduced me to the athletics scene. However it was Richard Barker who has shaped me to become the man and athlete I am today. Richard has influenced me in every facet of my life. His guidance and mentorship helped me navigate my teenage years and set me on the path for a physiotherapy career. I am very thankful for the role he has played.
What are your athletics weaknesses?
In the past my athletic weakness has been a lack of self-confidence. This was largely due to the time I spent in the USA as a collegiate athlete. Thankfully, as I showed when winning the national 10,000m title (in February), I have managed to regain my confidence.
What is the funniest things you’ve seen on an athletics track?
Thomas Harper, a University of Otago running icon, competing over the 1500m distance with a pocket full of coins.
What is your favourite athletics session?
Long runs. I love the challenge of a long run and the sense of satisfaction you get from covering the distance.
What is the greatest thing you’ve witnessed in an athletics stadium?
The greatest athletic feat I have seen would actually be in cross country. The first meet I went to in 2008 after arriving in the USA was the Pre-National Cross Country. It was an eye opener as I watched Sam Chelanga run the first 5k of an 8km cross country in 14.10! I realised then I had some work to do if I was going to be competitive. One year later I made the NCAA cross country as an individual, which is still one of my greatest athletic achievements.
Who has been your toughest rival?
I have had many rivals in my time. Me old mate Lyndon Brown was my toughest. We raced each other regularly as youngsters and were fierce competitors. Now we are great mates.
If you could star in another sport which sport would it be?
My other sporting passion has been rugby. I actually captained the Otago under 38kg team in 2001 and I could kick a good goal. I played flanker mainly because my aerobic fitness was very good. I think had running not become dominant, I would have pursued rugby, however I would have had to bulk up!
When travelling to a meeting what is the most important item in your suitcase?
Spikes, because you can’t run a fast 5000m/10,000m in trainers!
What is your greatest regret?
I have no regrets, each disappointment has allowed me to learn, I have things I wish could have been different, but I wouldn’t be the man I am today without those experiences.
Who is the person who most admire?
Richard Barker. He is man I have always looked to for direction. He has achieved a lot in his life and continues to do so through great self-belief and a strong work ethic. He also knows how to maintain a great life balance.
What is your favourite movie and why?
Shawshank Redemption; great quotes and Morgan Freeman at his finest.
When was the last time you looked at your athletics medals?
Today, my gold medal from the national 10,000m still sits on top of my drawers.