Paralympics: Robinson closer to London selection

Paralympic athlete Holly Robinson in action at the Caledonian Ground recently. Photo by Peter...
Paralympic athlete Holly Robinson in action at the Caledonian Ground recently. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

Holly Robinson (Taieri) moved a step closer to the London Paralympics when she broke the New Zealand javelin record last Saturday.

Robinson (17), a pupil at Taieri College, set an F 46 record with her throw of 32.19m at the IAAF-sanctioned meeting in Wellington.

It was a personal best by 1.75m and lifted her world ranking from seventh to sixth based on the 2011 ranking. The New Zealand qualifying mark is 25m but it does not guarantee selection.

The criteria for Paralympic selection have been tightened for London and an athlete would need to be in the top six in the world to be selected.

Early indications point to New Zealand taking no more than three athletes to the London Paralympics.

The leading contender is wheelchair athlete Jessica Hamill (Southland), who finished ninth in the shot put at the Paralympics in Beijing in 2008.

She has also finished fifth at the world championships and won a bronze medal at the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010.

She is ranked seventh on the combined classification that will be used for the Paralympics. She has been invited to compete in a trial event in London on May 6 and this should give her the edge to gain selection.

Robinson, an arm amputee, moved from her home in Hokitika to Dunedin last year to train with coach Raelene Bates.

She was born with a shortened left arm just below the elbow.

"It hasn't been a handicap for me," she said. "I just get on with life and do my best."

With her shortened arm she does not have as much of a lever as able-bodied athletes in the throwing events.

"It's not new. I've always had it," she said. "It doesn't affect my balance."

Her disability has given Robinson a dogged determination to succeed.

"If I can't do something it makes me more determined to keep trying," Robinson said.

"There is nothing I can't do."

She played social netball for Taieri College last year but has given the game away because she does not want to risk an injury before the London Paralympics.

Robinson grew up in Hokitika with twin brother Jonathon, an apprentice brick layer. His sport is wood chopping. Her father, Steve Robinson, played rugby for West Coast.

Robinson first competed in athletics aged 12 and found she had a talent for the sport.

"I loved it," she said. I just try to get better to see how far I can get.".

She admitted being nervous when she competed in the shot put at the world championships in Christchurch last year.

"But it settled me down and I was more relaxed for the javelin," Robinson said. She finished fifth in the javelin and seventh in the shot put.

Another Bates-coached athlete is Rory McSweeny (Taieri), who had a personal best by 1.59m when he threw his javelin 44.30m in Wellington. It moved him from 17th to 13th. The B qualifying mark is 45m.

London-based blind athlete Tim Prendergast is ranked second in the world in the 800m and 1500nm.

Matt Lack (Opotiki) is ranked 17th but is just 1sec outside the top 10 in the 800 and 1500m.



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