Athletics: Otago youngsters to fore

The 40th annual New Zealand secondary schools athletics championships start at the Caledonian Ground this afternoon. Athletics writer Alistair McMurran highlights seven athletes who are expected to shine.

Robert Jopp (John<br /> McGlashan College) wins this year's senior boys 200m race at the Otago<br /> schools athletics championships at the Caledonian Ground in Dunedin.• Matthew Bloxham
Orewa College

Bloxham (16) could be the emerging superstar at these championships. He has just smashed New Zealand hammer throw records in Auckland, setting new national marks in the men's aged 18 and 19 grades with his distance of 67.26m with the 6kg implement. He now holds all the national junior hammer throw records, having set an M16 and M17 record of 71.33m with the lighter 5kg hammer, and has qualified for next year's world youth championships in Ukraine.

Ellie McCleery
Waikato Diocesan

McCleery (18) should dominate the senior girls sprints and win the difficult 200m-400m double. She won the Oceania title in Cairns in July with her 200m time of 25.20sec. McCleery is also 2sec faster than her opponents in the 400m with her time of 55.50sec.

Siositina Hakeai
Auckland Grammar

Hakeai (18) tops the Athletics New Zealand junior women's rankings in the shot put (13.89m) and discus (56.17m) and will likely win gold medals in both events. The discus is her best event and she came fourth at this year's world junior championships in Barcelona. She starts with a 10m edge over the rest of the field.

Holly Robinson
Taieri College

Robinson (17) is expected to retain the three gold medals she won in the AWD shot put, discus and javelin last year. She represented New Zealand at the Paralympics in London and finished seventh in the F46 javelin with 32.58m.

Robert Jopp
John McGlashan College

Jopp (17), Otago's big hope in the sprints, is ranked third on the Athletics New Zealand list for the junior 200m with the 22.18sec he ran in Invercargill in March. He came third in the senior boys 200m last year and should get on the podium again.

Anna Kean
Otago Girls' High School

Kean (18) won a silver medal in the senior girls 1500m in Wellington last year behind Otago's best female middle distance runner, Rebekah Greene (St Hilda's). She is only ranked seventh on the Athletics New Zealand list but has proved in the past that she has the temperament to bring out a top performance on the big day.

Caitlin O'Brien
St Hilda's Collegiate

O'Brien (17) won the silver medal in the senior girls 800m in Wellington last year and is likely to medal again. She is fourth on this year's Athletics New Zealand ranking list with a personal best of 2min 13.94sec.




New Zealand secondary schools athletics

Ellie McCleery to dominate the senior girls 400m? Better re-do your homework on the rankings Alistair. A chance if she actually runs the 400m - but she'll have her work cut out.