Columba College relay runners (from left) Analise Cowie,
Laura Saville, Zoey Flockton and Maddy Spence train at the
Caledonian Ground. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Queenstown's Laura Saville is the only survivor of the
Columba College relay team that won the national schools gold
medal in Wellington last year.
Columba College does not have the fastest sprinters but has
concentrated on technique and baton-changing in a bid to
retain the senior 4 x 100m title.
There will be more than 1300 athletes competing at the New
Zealand secondary schools athletics championships at the
Caledonian Ground in Dunedin from December 7 to 9.
The Columba team of Saville, Analise Cowie, Zoey Flockton and
Maddy Spence has already claimed the Otago and
Otago-Southland secondary schools titles this year.
The team is coached by sports co-ordinator Shona Harvey, who
was a talented sprinter in her youth and represented Otago.
"We are using the relay to build enthusiasm and motivation
for athletics," Harvey told the Otago Daily Times.
"We are trying to encourage girls to participate in athletics
and are using the team factor for that."
A winning culture has been developed in the school since the
girls relay team first made the final at the New Zealand
secondary schools championships in 2007.
"The girls believe in themselves and enjoy what they are
doing," Harvey said. "At secondary school level, sport is all
"We have now built up a momentum, with girls wanting to get
into the relay team.
Athletics is usually about individual performances but the
relay brings in the team environment."
Over the past six weeks the team has trained five days a week
for the relay. It has included drills in the school
gymnasium, technique work and most important of all has been
the emphasis placed on baton-changing.
The elite relay team comes from different parts of Otago.
Cowie is from Hampden, Saville from Queenstown, and Flockton
and Spence from Dunedin. Spence shifted back to Dunedin from
Christchurch with her family after the earthquakes.
Flockton, whose older sister Renaye was part of last year's
champion team, summed up the importance of being part of a
"I like the team event where you rely on everyone else and
not just on yourself," Flockton said. "We have worked hard to
get the baton changes right."
Columba College Relay team
Coach: Shona Harvey (nee Duncan).
National record: Senior girls bronze medal (2009,
2010), gold medal (2011).
Last year's winning team: Renaye Flockton, Sophie
Napper, Melissa Austen, Laura Saville, time 49.86sec.
This year's team: Saville, Analise Cowie, Zoey
Flockton, Maddy Spence.