Reality of stunning jump setting in

John McGlashan College's Shay Veitch with the gold medal he won with a personal best leap in the senior boys' long jump at the national secondary school athletics championships at the Caledonian Ground on Sunday. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
John McGlashan College's Shay Veitch with the gold medal he won with a personal best leap in the senior boys' long jump at the national secondary school athletics championships at the Caledonian Ground on Sunday. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Shay Veitch is not sure which means more - his new gold medal or the mammoth personal best distance he jumped to win it.

The 17-year-old soared 7.11m to win the senior boys' long jump at the national secondary schools athletics championships at the Caledonian Ground on Sunday.

That was an astounding 61cm further than his goal for the championships - the year 12 John McGlashan College athlete entering with a PB of 6.39m, which he had done the weekend before.

He broke that when he opened with a 6.48m jump and extended it to 6.66m to place second when the field was cut to eight.

A no-jump followed, before he flew 6.98m to take the lead with one jump remaining.

However, when Charles Annals, of Hamilton Boys' High School jumped 7.05m - improving his distance from 6.24m - Veitch was left needing a second huge effort.

''I'm going to say I didn't think too much of it - I wasn't sure if I could surpass 7m,'' he said.

''I just went into my last jump thinking 'I'll just give it everything I have, leave it all there on my last jump and see what happens'.

''The whole jump just felt pretty good.

''The run-up lined up perfectly with the board, the movement in the air worked out perfectly for a great landing.''

He had been unsure if he had leapt far enough and when someone he knew who could see the tape measure told him it was ''7.1-something'' he did not believe it.

Seconds later the distance was announced, drawing a noisy reaction from his home crowd.

However, the feeling of disbelief lingered.

''I got asked a couple of questions just afterwards and I just didn't know what to say - I couldn't even process what had just happened.

''It took definitely a few hours - maybe even a whole day - something I just wasn't expecting.''

It was the culmination of a winter of hard training.

After spending much of his life in Thailand and China, where his parents worked, Veitch's family returned to New Zealand last year.

He did not compete in athletics in China as he also played football and the seasons clashed.

However, he got back into it last year and after winning both the long and triple jumps at the Otago championships this year, he decided to take it more seriously.

A self-trained jumper, he watched videos of professionals to learn the technique and spent time training both at the track and in the gym over winter.

Veitc has one more year left at school, as his time in Asia left him a year behind others his age when he returned to the New Zealand school system. In that time he hopes to attempt to defend his title and is planning to head to the national championships in March.

 

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