Christmas wishes

Christmas is nearly here, and it is time to reflect on another crazy year.Otago Daily Times sports reporters track down some local identities to ask them:

1. What was your highlight of 2021?

2. What will you be doing for Christmas?

3. What are your hopes for 2022?


Shelley Duncan
Shelley Duncan

Otago Golf Club general manager

1. Lydia Ko winning the Vare Trophy in 2021 to top off an awesome year for her.

2. I will be at home with family and working at the Otago Golf Club through the Christmas and New Year period to give my staff a break.

3. That the world of Covid settles down and we can all feel less anxious about day-to-day life and enjoy the beautiful part of the world that we live and work in.

Finn Butcher celebrates his outstanding performance in the canoe slalom ranking event in the...
Finn Butcher celebrates his outstanding performance in the canoe slalom ranking event in the Czech Republic. PHOTO: JAN HOMOLKA


1. It was so good to be able to travel again through all the restrictions. I was stoked we bit the bullet and committed to a full European season and got racing again. I was happy to see the hard work I put in at home was paying off, and a real highlight for me was coming second at the world championships in extreme slalom (a new event for Paris 2024), as well as winning the Prague Troja Ranking race ahead of some big-gun Czechs.

2. I’ll be spending as much time at home in Central Otago as I can. After 33 years in one place, Mum and Dad are selling up the family home and business, so it’ll probably be the last Christmas we have here. I’ll also try to get out on the mountain bike as much as I can over the break.

3. I’m hoping to get away to Europe pretty early in 2022, to catch the spring race series and prepare for the world championships in July. I want to keep building and learning from each opportunity, and put myself in the best shape I can heading towards 2024.


Regan Wilson
Regan Wilson

Dunedin Thunder veteran

1. It was great to see the NZIHL back in full swing, allowing us to play the North Island teams again after the Southern Showdown Series in 2020. But the major highlight would have to be seeing the rink jam-packed with Thunder fans, who came back with even louder chants, bigger banners, and a sea of green supporters’ gear to match.

2. Quiet Christmas for me this year. Celebrating our first Christmas in our new home with some family — 2- and 4-legged!

3. I would love to see some imports return to the league in 2022. It’s always a great addition to the league. We have had some great characters over the years whom most of us still keep in touch with.


Suzie Bates
Suzie Bates

New Zealand cricketer

1. It hasn’t been the greatest year, has it? Ummm. I think the Black Caps winning the World Test Championship was pretty cool.

2. We’ll head to Mum and Dad’s. They are actually moving house, so it is the last Christmas in the town house. It will probably just be me and my sister, Mum and Dad, and the dog Rocco. It will just be a very quiet Christmas day with cricket the next day.

3. To play in a home World Cup and to win the World Cup would be the dream.


Ricki Allan
Ricki Allan

Otago Whalers captain

1. Another successful Whalers campaign has to be up there but the main highlight for me personally this year has been buying my first home with my partner, Joanna.

2. We’ll be hosting my parents at the new home and hoping for a ‘‘Dunners Stunner’’ so we can have a barbecue and celebrate the occasion.

3. I’m hoping for a happy and healthy 2022 that will see Otago rugby league continue to make strides and have the Whalers push for a spot in the National Premiership so that we can showcase some of the talent that Otago has to offer.

Solomon Alaimalo shone for the Stags and will be eager to impress for the Highlanders in 2022....
Solomon Alaimalo shone for the Stags and will be eager to impress for the Highlanders in 2022. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Highlanders fullback

1. Playing footy with my little brother Charles for the Stags.

2. Barbecue and a few Speight’s with my fiancee and her family, and visiting some of my extended family.

3. That Covid stops evolving and we win the Super Rugby comp.


Renee Savai'inaea
Renee Savai'inaea

Southern Steel wing defence

1. My highlight was moving down to the South and getting regular court time with the Steel. It was definitely a step out of my comfort zone but I embraced the change as it gave me a fresh perspective on my netball.

2. I’ll be in Wellington, spending quality time with family and friends.

3. I want to keep pushing for a starting spot and to enjoy the netball I’m playing. I learnt so much this year in the Steel environment and I’m excited to see what we can achieve as a team now we have established those key connections. We’ve kept the core of the team together and added some new talent so it’s going to be awesome.

Kavanagh College head girl Erika Fairweather on the day she was selected for the Tokyo Olympics....
Kavanagh College head girl Erika Fairweather on the day she was selected for the Tokyo Olympics. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Olympic swimmer

1. Olympics were definitely the highlight — especially 400m freestyle.

2. Hanging out with friends and family.

3. Looking forward to travelling again and competing overseas.


Toni Power
Toni Power

Southern United defender

1. Being part of the Southern United women’s football team. Personally, I am really pleased to have had such a fantastic season and in return making the women’s team of the season for my first time ever. I am beyond proud of the outstanding season we’ve had as a team, and to win the South Central Series was just amazing.

2. I will be spending time with my family in Mangawhai. Although I have absolutely fallen in love with Dunedin, I am looking forward to a change in scenery and some warmer weather over the summer. My family and I are all about the beach, surfing, paddle boarding and fishing. That is most certainly how we will be spending our Christmas.

3. To continue to make myself and my family proud. From an academic perspective, I have worked really hard towards my sport and exercise science degree over my first two years at the University of Otago. In terms of my football, I hope to improve even more in the new fullback role I’ve started playing, perhaps to start scoring some goals. But most importantly to continue enjoying my football. I also hope that the football season will be able to run more smoothly without as many interruptions due to Covid.

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