The stories behind success

The Franklin region’s top junior sportspeople were announced at the Counties Manukau Junior Sports Awards recently. It’s fantastic that these awards are held each year. But what goes on behind the scenes to make these young people so successful? We spotlight several of the winners this week to find out what’s required to achieve such success.


Cameron Hooper (age 17)
Winner of the Premier Logos Junior Official/Administrator of the Year
While many teenagers are “slothing” about, whiling away their days with their thumbs stuck to their phones and iPads, others are making waves in their chosen sport. Cameron Hooper at age 17, is the youngest squash player in NZ to ever undertake qualifications to become a district squash referee. If you’ve ever watched a competition squash game, things can get mighty technical and tetchy. So why is he doing it and what is it about him that holds him in good stead to go far?
“I decided to get into referring because I wanted to be able to help other people referee confidently and I’m all for new challenges. I’m most worried I’ll muck up a let call, where you have to decide if it’s a no let, let, or stroke, when the opponent is obstructing the attacker’s shot. Everyone has different opinions, and everyone is very quick to voice them! I’ve attended multiple rules’ nights, have done lots of tests and I’ve had games assessed by multiple National Referees (really stressful!)”, said Cameron.
President of the Franklin Squash Club, Layne Shepherd says Cameron has three great traits that will see him go far in anything he puts his mind to. “Empathy, tenacity and humility. Cameron is very driven and will strive to be the best ref he can be. He can laugh at himself too which is important as a referee can’t be right ALL of the time,” said Layne.

Kiana Swain (age 16)
Winner of the Malcolm Wrigley Insurance U19 Sportswoman of the Year
Kiana’s collection of swimming medals is outstanding. There are a mountain of them. She’s right up among the very best of all the secondary school swimmers in NZ and gold is often what she takes home from competitions. Every day except Sundays, you’ll find Kiana doing hours of laps at the pool and some days, she’ll be there twice. A lot of bananas are devoured and on top of all of that pool training, she’ll also fit in a couple of gym sessions and a yoga class. Oh and then there’s school work to squish in too. (gosh I feel worn out just writing this!)
“I think the reason for my success in swimming so far, has been my continued commitment. Training so many times a week, fitting in with school and a social life is difficult, but because I genuinely love what I do, it makes it easier to get through the hard days. I work extremely hard for my achievements and try to push myself past my limits at every training. My major goal is the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. This year I’m aiming to qualify for the Junior Pan Pacific team which will travel to Fiji and possibly the Youth Olympics in Argentina!” said Kiana.
Kiana is also working towards securing a scholarship for an American swimming university after she leaves secondary school. With such fantastic goals and proven success, we’re sure she’ll get snapped up.

Quinn Gardiner-Hall (age 12)
Winner of the Business Plus One U13 Sportsman of the Year Award
Teaching himself how to race walk off YouTube videos, then breaking the Auckland record was just one of the standout efforts from Quinn’s long list of achievements for 2017. His biggest highlight however was becoming the youngest runner in the world (age 11) to run the Antarctica Half Marathon.
“It was really challenging because the Antarctica event was during our summer, so I was training in hot weather, but was going to a freezing climate. So we just made everything as hard as we could. Mum and me would go running during the hottest time of the day. We did events like The Hillary trail event across Murawai—that was a killer as it was so hot and hilly! Mum even contacted Kelly Tarlton’s to see if I could train with the penguins—they must have thought we were joking because they never replied. Then when we were on the ship on the way down to Antarctica, I would train on the treadmill inside. It kept wobbling as the boat moved. I would also get dressed up in all of my thermal running gear and run laps on the ship’s deck. It was really good for my balance!” said Quinn.
Quinn now has his sights set on multi-sport and athletics and has already popped a few more medals in the cabinet. Everyone we spoke with about this young man, commented on his resilience, dedication and smarts. One to watch.

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