News & Updates

31 October 2023 • Community

Athletics for Everybody – Rosie Elliott

New Zealand 200m record-holder Rosie Elliott loved her formative development as an athlete at Phoenix AC. Credit: Alisha Lovrich

As part of our Athletics for Everybody campaign we focus on a number of our elite international performers who reminisce about their club athletics memories. Today we put the spotlight on World Championship 400m sprinter Rosie Elliott who chats with affection about her affiliation with Phoenix AC.

The nurturing and fun environment enjoyed by national women’s 200m record-holder Rosie Elliott at Phoenix AC was a critical factor in her ongoing association with the sport.

Starting out at the Christchurch-based club at the age of “11 or 12” the New Zealand 400m champion recalls with warmth her formative years at the club where she forged friendships and a passion for the sport.

“I got to hang out and train with a really cool bunch of kids,” she explains. “There was a group of five or six of us around the same age and we were lucky to work with some incredibly nurturing coaches – Judy MacDonald and Jonathan Black.”

Rosie recalls the fun within the group. The dress ups with hats and wigs at Colgate Games and the wider sense of community that was firmly embedded within the club.

She says results were never the primary focus, and she recalls the outward joy her coach, Judy, revealed after Rosie broke the 14-second barrier over 100m for the first time.

“I was by no means the best in the squad, and I was not the first girl in the squad to have done it, but to see Judy so excited rather than comparing me to other people, was with the benefit of hindsight incredibly important.”

In her mid-teens Rosie quit the sport for a period before returning shortly after her 21st birthday. Now back a member of her beloved Phoenix AC – despite now being based in Auckland, where she is coached by James Mortimer – she credits the club as playing a critical role in her ongoing involvement in athletics.

“If I had not been a part of this club I would not have come back to the sport as an adult,” she explains. “I know a few of the kids to say hello to and given my ongoing relationship with Judy and Jonathan it made sense for me to come back to the club.”

Rosie, who represented New Zealand in the 400m at the 2022 and 2023 World Athletics Championships and who smashed the national 200m record with a 22.81 clocking in Christchurch in February, is one of New Zealand pre-eminent sprinters and she recommends youngsters from trying out at their local athletics club.  

“It is an excellent way of making friends outside of school and exposes you to much more diversity and new ways of seeing the world.”

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