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Taylah Friend has always been into sports.
The year 13 pupil at St Peter’s College started playing hockey and touch rugby at the age of 5.
But it took almost a decade before she found her real passion — wrestling.
She started to practise when she was 16 years old, after taking her younger brother to wrestling classes.
"I started to go along with him and watch a few times and I just decided to join in.
"After that it kind of just rocketed from there.
"I never thought that me starting wrestling would turn into everything."
Since then, she has become one of the most promising junior wrestlers in the region.
In April 2019, she was selected for the New Zealand wrestling development team which travelled to the United States to compete.
There, she won a gold medal at a wrestling tournament in Indiana.
Taylah also takes her studies quite seriously.
Now in her last year of school, she says she doesn’t know what she wants to study at university yet.
However, she believed science could be a pathway as it was her favourite subject.
She thinks she will miss school.
"I love doing sports there. I think I’m more an outside person than inside one. School is school ... I’m excited but nervous at the same time [to finish it.]"
Achievements: First place at the Otago Wrestling Championships (2018-19); First place at the New Zealand National Wrestling Championships (2018); first place at the Taieri Wrestling Championships (2019); first place at the Canterbury Wrestling Championships (2019); first place at the North Island Wrestling Championships (2019); first place at the Southland Wrestling Championships (2019); first place at the New Zealand Club Wrestling Championships (2019); first place in the Junior division at the New Zealand National Wrestling Championships (2019); second place in the senior division at the New Zealand Wrestling Championships (2019); first place and most promising junior wrestler trophy at South island wrestling Championship.
Role models: Problably would be Tayla Ford, New Zealand’s best wrestler. I had the chance to wrestle her last at the Nationals. I lost — obviously, but it was an amazing experience and she inspires me.
Hopes for the future: To find out what I want to do with my life and go study somewhere. I also hope to continue to wrestle and grow my skills. I would love to compete overseas and an Olympic gold medal could be one of my goals."
Juggling a busy training routine with school work is something Joshua Kotkamp got used to at an early age.
The St Peter’s College year 13 pupil started playing sport when he was 5 years old and never stopped.
Actually, he believes his passion grew even more.
"I really enjoy playing sports."
Joshua says one of his greatest achievement was being part of the Southern United under-15 and under-16 National Age Group Tournament football teams two years in a row.
"Being part of this team was a huge commitment to myself and family with fortnightly practices all over Otago-Southland and up to Timaru for 10 months of the year. "
He also believes his commitment to regular training and games has helped him to maintain a high level of fitness, and consequently, regularly gain first place in the St Peter’s College athletics and cross-country.
The 17-year-old pupil manages his busy sports routine with his studies.
His academic achievement includes NCEA level 1 with merit, gaining 127 credits, including 46 with merit and eight with excellence.
In NCEA level 2, he achieved 99 credits, including 36 with merit and seven with excellence.
He has not yet decided which pathway he will follow at university, but says he would like to pursue a professional football career.
"It would be amazing if I got to the point of representing New Zealand in a World Cup — that is probably one of my overall goals."
Achievements: Eastern football team U11 (2013); Southland Football Tournament team U12/U13/U14/U15 (2014); St Peter’s College 1st XI for the past four seasons; Southland United U15 & U16 Football teams (2018-19); Southern United National U15 Age Group Football Tournament (2018); Southern United National U16 Age Group Football Tournament (2019); Southland United men’s football team (2019); St Peter’s College boys’ cross-country champion in his age group (201520); second place in Southland’s Secondary Schools Cross Country (2016); St Peter’s College boys’ athletics champion (2015-20); Southland Country Primary Schools’ Tournament team (2014-16) and also Southland Country U15 team (2016-18).
Role models: I’ve got heaps of people that I kind of look up to.
Hopes for the future: I will keep playing sport, playing some football, playing overseas maybe. I have an English passport so I would love to play in England.