News & Updates
Fast Eddie is a future star
Eddie Osei-Nketia is the most exciting New Zealand sprint talent of his generation. Steve Landells finds out more about the Wellington-based speedster who boasts a special set of genes.
Standing at 6ft 3ins and weighing nearly 100kg few students would have missed the Scots College Year 12 new boy Eddie Osei-Nketia over the past week or so.
Arriving earlier this month, the new boarder student boasts an unmistakable physical presence yet such are his sprinting gifts that very soon it could be more than simply his fellow students who recognise this exciting new kid on the block.
Sprinting to a sensational 10.30 and 20.76 100m/200m double at the Canberra Track Classic – he finished second in the former event and triumphed in the latter – he destroyed no less than SIX New Zealand records that day as he claimed U18/U19 and U20 national marks in both events.
To put his performance into context the 10.30 clocking elevates the 17-year-old to fourth on the all-time New Zealand 100m senior lists and number seven for the 200m.
Oh, and if that surname seems familiar you would be right. His father is Gus Nketia, the New Zealand 100m record-holder, who posted 10.11 when competing at the 1994 Commonwealth Games and who would later run at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
If many of you are also wondering why you have only just heard of Eddie now there is a simple explanation. Born and raised in Whangaparoa and attending Red Beach School – where he first discovered an ability to sprint – the family relocated to Canberra when he was aged nine.
“I loved the beaches and the quiet life at Red Beach,” recalls Eddie. “I also remember competing at athletics carnivals (in New Zealand) where I would blast everybody (in the 100m). But my family decided to move to Canberra because of the sporting and educational opportunities.”
Eddie, the eldest of three siblings (note, younger brother Augustine Jnr is a 49.1 400m sprinter), quickly excelled at sprinting landing state titles in Australia.
Yet perhaps what is a surprise is that Eddie only first found out about his dad’s proud sprinting background “around the age of 11.”
“I was shocked when he told me,” Eddie explains of his dad’s confession. “Up until then I didn’t know he was an Olympian.”
It was his father, who represented Ghana at the 1990 Commonwealth Games before later settling in New Zealand, who took on the coaching responsibilities and that relationship still remains intact today.
Yet while some might baulk at their father coaching them, Eddie has total respect for the man who one day he would love to dislodge as New Zealand 100m record-holder.
“My dad tells me to focus and train and those too are my main goals, to be honest,” explains Eddie. “He has taught me patience and discipline and it is great he is willing to give up his time as coach.”
Such are Eddie’s physical gifts at the age of 13 he took up rugby in Canberra and quickly rose through the ranks. As a powerhouse and try-hungry winger he made the ACT under-16 squad and he still has not ruled out a future career in rugby.
However, perhaps his most eye-catching sporting performances have been reserved for the track.
In late-2016 when aged just 15 he secured the Australian All Schools title in his adopted home city of Canberra, recording a schools record 100m time of 10.63 (this was not a PB because it was wind-aided) time after posting a PB of 10.75 in his heat. Later that season in Sydney he secured the national U18 100m crown in a new PB of 10.56.
Eddie retained the Australian U18 crown last year by trimming 0.04 from his PB, once more revealing a unerring ability to deliver when it counts.
Yet it has been his dazzling form in the 2018-19 season which has most caught the eye. He opened his year by blasting to a 20.83 clocking for the 200m in Canberra – to obliterate his previous 200m best by 0.67. Then one week later in Wellington he shaved 0.02 from 100m best in a time of 10.50 but it was the seismic impact the teenager created at the Canberra Classic meet in late-January which best illustrates his gargantuan potential.
Wiping a full two-tenths of a second from his lifetime best with a 10.30 clocking in the 100m he then followed this up by dismantling his previous 200m best to register 20.76.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the (100m) time,” he explains. “It was a shock to me but it gave me a lot more confidence for the 200m.”
So what does Eddie believes has contributed to his scintillating form?
“I think it is down to the training I’ve recently pulled out,” he says. “I can also see 2020 coming (and a potential place at the Olympics). I’ve got to pick up my game. My strides have got quicker and I’ve improved my arm action.”
Training in a cycle of two days on followed by one day off, Eddie has not yet introduced gym work into his programme and as further evidence of his potential scope for improvement, the New Zealander principally trains for rugby during the winter months.
The next questions is why has he recently relocated from Canberra to Wellington – and he has a decisive response for anyone willing to question his commitment to New Zealand.
“Even though I have lived in Australia (since he was nine) I always kept asking my parents when we could come back home,” he explains. “I always felt like a Kiwi boy in Australia. I would always support the All Blacks over the Wallabies.”
His parents relented to his wishes and attracted to the excellent education offered by Scots College in Wellington, Eddie arrived just over a week ago.
Finding the students and staff “very welcoming” at school he is also enjoying life back in his homeland.
“Everything is so green and lush and the people are very nice too,” he adds of his initial impressions of life back in his country of birth.
In terms of his training, Eddie will continue to be coached remotely by his father who remains in Canberra but he has an experienced pair of eyes on the ground as former national 100m champion and Commonwealth Games sprinter Gary Henley-Smith is Director of Boarding at Scots College.
In the short-term the teenage sprinter is looking forward to competing at the Jennian Homes New Zealand Track and Field Championships in Christchurch and then the Australian Nationals, where he seeks a repeat performance from the Canberra Classic.
Longer term the music-loving teenager would love to also match his father as an Olympian, but what piece of coaching advice does he value the most from his dad?
“’Don’t think about it, just race’,” adds Eddie.
A philosophy which has so far served the Kiwi flyer very well and will, in all likelihood, continue to do so for many years to come.