DISTANCE runner Buddy Small was named Southland’s Athlete of the Year at Athletics Southland’s annual meeting last week.
Small now has his name on a trophy which features many well-performed athletes, including Olympian Jane Muir.
Incidentally, Wyndham club stalwart Muir is still winning awards, having won Coach of the Year at the same meeting, sharing the trophy with Winton’s Amanda Senior.
In presenting the Athlete of the Year trophy, Athletics Southland chairman Christ Knight said Small was recognised for his selection in the New Zealand’s team for the World Mountain Running Championships in Argentina.
The 20-year-old athlete has been running seriously since he was aged about 13, first with little success but lately, his results have put him among race leaders.
His track event of choice is the steeplechase in which he has won New Zealand Championships and New Zealand Secondary Schools medals.
But it was mountain running, a sport which demands the endurance of a marathoner, the speed of a track racer, the strength of a cross country runner and the agility of a trail runner, which earned him the silver fern at a world championship and with it, Southland’s foremost athletic trophy.
As well as winning the premier trophy, Small was judged Distance Athlete of the Year.
Throws award went to Jessica Senior who won the highly competitive national Secondary School Championships senior javelin and the under-20 silver medal at the New Zealand Track and Field Championships.
Quinn Hartley was the Southland Jumps Athlete of the Year, winning the Swanson Trophy. Hartley had a standout season, securing several national championship medals as well as adding his name to the record books.
At the National Secondary School Championships he won all three junior jump events, with the long jump a meet record.
The New Zealand Track and Field Championships gave him three medals, the under-18 and under-20 long jump golds and senior high jump bronze. He is the youngest New Zealander to clear 2m in the high jump and 7m in the long jump. These were also Southland records.
Rico Fisher won the Combined Events Award following his second at the New Zealand CE chaps in the under-16 section. Scott Cole, who was the driving force of the 11+ training sessions, was awarded the Official of the Year trophy.