Beaut at basketball and biffing

Alexa Duff (14) at the Caledonian Ground on Thursday, having represented New Zealand at a global...
Alexa Duff (14) at the Caledonian Ground on Thursday, having represented New Zealand at a global basketball skills challenge and broken an Otago javelin record in consecutive weekends. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Alexa Duff could have hardly made a better transition from the court to the track.

A week after representing New Zealand at a global basketball skills contest, she was breaking records in her first throw of the summer at the Caledonian Ground.

The 14-year-old is quickly emerging as one of Otago’s brightest prospects in both basketball and athletics.

Her throw of 29.86m in the javelin broke the girls 14-aged Otago record.

While it was a throw she was happy with, her goal was to extend it to 33m.

That is particularly impressive given her favoured event is discus — in which she broke the South Island secondary schools under-15 record earlier this year.

It came after a winter in which she took a significant leap on the basketball court.

Alongside playing for the Otago under-15 girls and both the Columba College junior and senior teams, the year-10 pupil made her first appearances in women’s A grade.

Turning out for the Andy Bay Falcons, she reached double-digits scoring multiple times, including a season-high of 15 points.

It is a level very few reach at 14 years old, let alone succeed at.

‘‘It was kind of scary playing with all the Gold Rush players, but it was quite fun,’’ she said.

‘‘I definitely got more used to it at the end.

‘‘They’re a lot more skilled and a lot stronger in every part of the game, so it’s definitely a lot harder.’’

She said sharing a court with the likes of former Tall Fern Lisa Wallbutton and Otago Gold Rush stars Bronwyn Kjestrup and Natalie Visger had been a little surreal.

Duff, who trains ‘‘at least once a day’’ during the season, has the long-term goal of going to college in the United States, while also playing for the Otago Gold Rush.

She also had the opportunity to test her skills against the world’s best under-15 players.

Duff was part of the seven-girl New Zealand team that competed in the FIBA skills challenge — each player completing a skills circuit in Christchurch that was filmed and timed.

They did so several times, each run corresponding to a particular round.

That is then matched up with the same run from another country and played on YouTube — the fastest time winning.

New Zealand won its Asian region qualifier, before finishing second in its four-team pool at the world championships.

It is awaiting its round of 16 match-up against Madagascar.


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