Success in the Field at NZSSA Championships for Hewitt Family

Brother and sister Elizabeth and Alex Hewitt had a successful meet at last weekend’s NZSSA Secondary School Track and Field Championships in Tauranga.

The siblings both compete in the throwing events – Hammer, Shot Put and Discus – and came away with a silver and two bronzes between them in three of the five combined events they entered. Both threw personal bests during the meet.

Older sister Elizabeth (Year 12, Chilton St James) won silver in the Senior Girls Hammer, bronze in Senior Girls Discus and was sixth in the Senior Girls Shot Put, in her first year competing as a senior, while Alex (year 10, Hutt International Boys’ School) was third in the Junior Boys Hammer, while also finishing seventh and ninth in the Junior Boys Shot Put and Discus respectively.

We caught up with both and put a few questions to them about the weekend and their throwing careers.

College Sport Wellington: Talk us through the weekend in Tauranga, in particular the events you each medaled in?

Elizabeth: I was feeling good if not more nervous than before for Hammer, knowing I had the potential to win a medal in this event if all went to plan.  I had been working on three turns for Hammer in trainings and my goal was to go for them in competition. My plan of attack was to start with a 2 turn then move into a 3 but after only receiving one warm-up throw that changed suddenly and I knew I going to do 3 turns the whole competition, which made me a bit anxious, but I knew I could do it.

I fouled my first throw which was a hard start, but I stuck with it and then managed on my third throw to throw my silver medal distance of 53.25m.

Prior to discus I did not have high expectations for my performance as discus has never really been my strong point and a week before Nationals I had altered my techniques my goal was to just get my technique right and feel confident and if anything else happened then that was a bonus. On my first round I threw 43m, which for me was a three metre PB, and I was absolutely stoked with that throw so was excited for the upcoming throws that followed, by the end of round three I was in second place and the competition was heating up. I was bumped down into third place for the 4th round and then on the 5th round was in fourth, so it was all down to my last throw. I was already so proud of myself for finally throwing consistently over 40m that I went into the last round feeling like I had nothing to lose, I managed to throw 44.86m which then got a bronze medal.

I was slightly disappointed with my third event, Shot Put, as I didn’t reach my target on this one. However again like my discus I had slightly altered my technique a week before to benefit my style of throwing. I’ve still got some practice to do with this one, but I was happy to be placed in the top 8, finishing 6th overall.

Alex: In Hammer I fouled my first two throws – then threw the one to win me the silver. I have just

switched to a 3 turns but on the day they were not working so switched back to 2 turns. I always knew the two other Manurewa High School boys would be my top competition based on results from their Regional Leagues leading up to the competition [Alex placed between a group of three Manurewa HS throwers].

I was stoked with my Junior Boys Discus performance. That was a massive 5-metre PB for me. I was in the 2 d Qualifying pool and there was a lot of competition in that group so this pushed me to get a good throw to qualify for a Final spot. Also with Shot put another PB and I was really happy to make top 8 to finish 7th.

CSW: Had you competed at previous school nationals, and what had been highlights for you prior to this past weekend?

Elizabeth: My first Nationals was as a Y9 and as a young Junior. This was a bit of an eyeopener for me in terms of how much older my competitors were in that National Junior Grade.  The next year I won silver in Shot Put, but no success in Hammer which I had only just started throwing.  The next year was in Wellington and this is probably one of my main highlights for me, winning JG Hammer, Silver in JG Shot put and Bronze in JG Discus.  I was then selected into the NZSS Athletics team to compete at the Australian Track and Field Champs.  A huge disappointment as this was cancelled due to COVID-19. I knew moving into my first year as a Senior this year was going to be a big challenge for me.

Alex: Nationals last year in Wellington was my first Nationals. In those real bad conditions last year I won the Bronze in the Junior Boys Hammer. I had only been throwing the Hammer for 8 weeks.

CSW: With lockdown abruptly cancelling the NI Championships and a difficult year all-round, how was your build-up to Nationals, and do you play winter sports as well?

Elizabeth: Yes, sad to have NI Champs cancelled.  Our season pretty much finished at the time of lockdown as it was time to focus on winter sport when we could get back to school.  I play in the Senior A Netball Team and compete in Aerobics as well.  Aerobics is fantastic training for any sport as it keeps you fit, agile, strong and flexible. I finished 2nd at the New Zealand Aerobics Champs as an Open Novice Individual.  I also compete as a Duo in the Senior Open teams finishing 6th at the same Nationals.

Alex: Lockdown happened right at the end of the competition season so gave me a chance to then focus on my rugby. I picked up throw training again at the end of September to ready for Nationals. I play Rugby in the HIBS U15 team. We do a lot of fitness in our rugby trainings which enables me to keep my strength and fitness up outside of athletics season. I really enjoyed the rugby season which kept my motivation all through winter and lead into athletics to my goal of Nationals.

CSW: Where to now – What is coming up in athletics over the remainder of the summer and into next year?

Elizabeth: I will take a short break over Christmas.  I am attending a Throws camp in Christchurch first week of January so am looking forward to that.  Then representing Wellington at the Inter Provincial Champs end of January, then back to school and all the competitions along with New Zealand Track and Field Champs where I can compete as an U18, U20 and as a Senior Woman in Hammer. I have to throw a heavier weight for that category. Next year being my final year competing at the NZSSA champs in December I am hoping to finish with a bang and achieve some good results.

Alex: I will be a Year 11 next year. I will take a small break over Christmas but start straight after Christmas for my last year competing at Colgate Games in early January, Inglewood. Then on to representing Wellington for Inter-provincials end of January and then on to all the school competitions, hopefully finishing in North Island Championships.

CSW: Talk us through your background in competing in athletics and in the “field” events?

Elizabeth: One of my friends at primary school said I should come to athletics after I finished well in the school cross country.  I think I was around 8 years old.  My brother and I joined Mana Athletics Club and started doing all the Junior events from there.  My coach there recognised my ability to throw well so we then joined the Sola Power throwing academy to further my coaching and support there.

Alex: I have been doing athletics as long as my sister doing all the events, sprints, jumps and throws. We joined our local athletics club Mana Amateur Athletics Club at the same time. I started at Sola Powering throwing academy when she did as well when we started to train more seriously for “throws” I also compete in the 400m sprint.

CSW: Tell us about your support, from coaches to parents (dad being an ex-All Black and mum current Chilton Sports Director)?

Elizabeth: I have the most amazing support network I could ever ask for thanks to my coaches, parents and friends. The minute I stepped foot onto Sola Power grounds I felt an overwhelming sense of support and encouragement and to this day my coaches Shaka Sola and Brad Wharehinga-Sime have gone above and beyond to help me grow as a field athlete, whether it’s giving up a few extra hours they could be spending with their own whanau to provide some one- on-one coaching or simply yelling from the other side of an athletics track before you’re about to throw so you know they have your back, their time and effort will never go unnoticed. They feed on our performances and achievements and if something does not go to plan they will go straight back to the drawing board and come up with sometimes the most unusual but helpful solutions to help us achieve our goals.  My coaches will always be one of my biggest support networks no matter what, and I am truly thankful and inspired by their wisdom and knowledge they are willing to share with anyone no matter what age to help them grow as not only a throwing athlete but an athlete in general.

My parents never really participated in track and field, so this sport was one my brother and I kind of chose ourselves. So at the beginning before they began to learn more about the sport and techniques, they couldn’t nag us about our technique or how we should be doing it, but they did know what it took to be a strong competent athlete and that is something they taught us ever since sport came into our lives. My mum and dad are my rock, they really challenge me and push me to my limits sometimes and even though the constant reminders about training hard or continuous lectures about the sacrifices I have to make because I want to pursue this sport can sometimes drive me up the wall, I would never have achieved the results I have achieved to this day. My mum is always willing to drive me to training even if it means she may have to sacrifice something she would rather do and I know both my mum and dad will always have my back no matter what happens.

Alex: Our coaches, Shaka and Brad, come to every competition and there is always one of them watching us compete. I really appreciate their support as they also have their kids competing as well. They have been a massive help in helping me achieve my goals. My parents are a huge support to me having themselves gone through a very high level of sport. They kinda know what to expect.

CSW: Thanks for your time and see you inside the track early next year!


-Story Courtesy of College Sport Media