Rhian Ward in action at the Caledonian Ground. Photo by
Rhian Ward has raw talent. He has the potential to
represent New Zealand at the highest level and stand on the
For the past three years, the Dunstan High School pupil has
been mixing athletics with cricket and rugby but has still
been able to perform at big meets.
Ward (16) is a member of his school's First XI and First XV.
He is talented at these sports but his best chance of
reaching the big time is in athletics.
He proved it in March when he won a gold medal in the
under-17 800m at the New Zealand track and field
championships in Auckland.
Ward was one of five Otago athletes who won gold medals at
the championships. He won in a time of 1min 58.80sec.
"It felt pretty cool," Ward told the Otago Daily Times. "I
put in a lot of hard work and it paid off.
"It didn't go to plan. I led the first lap but I got boxed in
going into the second lap. I had to kick from 200m and go
around the outside."
He is keen to repeat that performance and win the gold medal
in the senior boys 800m when the New Zealand secondary
schools championships are held at the Caledonian Ground in
Dunedin next weekend.
Ward, who is coached by Allan Hamilton in Alexandra, looks
like a champion. He runs with an efficient style and has a
ferocious kick that can win races.
He has got the mental toughness that comes from growing up in
the country, and is a fast learner.
Ward learned the hard way after coming fifth in the 800m at
last year's New Zealand secondary schools championships in
"It was my first major race and I got psyched out," he said.
"I looked around the field and tried to find a potential
He now takes a different approach and just concentrates on
what he must do himself.
"It was my first major race at Wellington and I was under
pressure that I had never experienced before," Ward said.
Ward has been loaned books by his coach and has read about
great New Zealand athletes such as Peter Snell, John Walker
and Murray Halberg.
His favourite athlete is Kenyan David Rudisha, who ran from
the front and won the 800m gold medal in a world-record time
of 1min 40.91sec at the London Olympics.
School: Dunstan High School.
Athletics highlight: New Zealand under-17 800m
Best times: 400m (51.95sec), 800m (1min 58.30sec).
Coach: Allan Hamilton.