Athletics: Awards reward for fine masters season

Liz Wilson.
Liz Wilson.
Liz Wilson won the major award at the Otago athlete of the year function at the Sargood Centre last night.

The 53-year-old masters athlete ended javelin thrower Tori Peeters' two year-grip on the award, and also received the senior summer athlete of the year award.

Wilson, who took up athletics nine years ago, had a fine season in her preferred events - the 100m, 200m and 400m.

She won gold in all three events in the women's 50-54 years section at the world masters championships in France last August.

The Brent Ward-coached sprinter was also given the opportunity to compete at the IAAF world athletics championships in Beijing the same month.

Wilson was invited to compete in the masters 50-plus 400m, in which she won bronze. Her medals added to the gold she won in the 400m and the bronze medals she won in the 100m and 200m in Brazil in 2013.

Wilson also dominated the women's 50-54 years section at the national masters championships in Dunedin in February, winning the 60m, 100m, 200m and long jump.

Ward, who coaches a bunch of other Otago sprinters, including national 400m champion Andrew Whyte, shared the coach of the year award with throws coach Raylene Bates.

Oli Chignell, of Hill City-University, and Mel Aitken, of Leith, won the male and female winter athletes of the year awards respectively.

Chignell had an impressive cross-country season, highlighted by winning the national under-18 title in Christchurch on Saturday.

The Otago under-18 cross-country champion also became the youngest runner (then 17) in almost 100 years to win the Edmond Cup steeplechase at the Wingatui Racecourse.

He won the individual men's open 5.4km race in 17min 40sec, making him the second-youngest winner in history.

Aitken also had a dominant winter. In addition to winning the 35-plus section in the national cross-country and national road championships, she won won the Otago marathon and cross-country titles.

Aitken also finished second in the Christchurch marathon in a personal-best 2hr 49.13sec, and won the Wanaka and Hawaii half marathons.

Other awards:

Junior summer athlete of the year: Felix McDonald (long jump and hurdles).

Most improved junior athlete: Laura Overton (javelin).

Most improved senior athlete: Holly Robinson (javelin).

Para athletes of the year: Jess Hamill (shot put) and Rory McSweeney (javelin).

Contribution to athletics awards: Greg Johnson and Joan Merrilees.

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