Great feats in the face of obstacles

Resilience. That’s the first word that comes to mind when thinking back to the gigantic sporting efforts of North Otago athletes, teams and organizations in another year disrupted by Covid-19. Kayla Hodge narrows it down to the 10 Best Sporting Times of the Year in North Otago.


In February, North Otago scored a monster victory to win the Hawke Cup for the third time in 12 years.

The team coached by Pete Cartwright beat Nelson by 250 points – North Otago’s biggest win in Pinnacle Trophy history. The squad was bolstered by former Otago Volts player Nathan Smith, who returned home to play alongside his brother Jeremy.

The victory was very special for captain Lachie Kingan, who scored a rare brace as part of the North Otago Hawke Cup and Meads Cup winning teams.

Heroes of the hometown. . . Courtney Duncan of Palmerston celebrated her third consecutive victory in the women’s motocross world championship on Sunday. PHOTO: SUPPLIED / MXGP


What a year for Courtney Duncan.

The Palmerston motocross rider won her third straight women’s motocross world championship title in October, earning 31 points and coming back from a heavy fall that slightly fractured her finger.

She won the Supreme Sportswoman of the Year Award at the Network Waitaki Sports Awards in March and was nominated for Sportswoman of the Year at next year’s Halberg Awards.

Daddy’s Girls . . . Coxed women’s intermediate eight Oamaru Rowing Club, with coach Owen Gould, rose to the podium after winning gold at the New Zealand Rowing Championships in Twizel last weekend. PHOTO: SHARRON BENNETT PHOTOGRAPHER


Oamaru’s Eights are a rarity, so bringing gold home is that much sweeter.

Oamaru’s women’s intermediate eight with coxswain – Georgie McCarthy, April Linares-Fontona, Amelia Wilkinson, Abbey Wilson, Bailey Chapman, Sophie Linares-Fontona, Lily Rawson, Sophie McMillian-Sinclair and Quinn Plunkett – won championship gold New Zealand rowing, in February.

The eight then split into two teams of four, a team from St Kevin’s College and a team from Waitaki Girls’ High School. St Kevin’s won bronze in the women’s intermediate final, while Waitaki Girls finished fifth.


“I want an experience to add to your life, not to turn your life around it.”

These were the words of Holly Edmondston as she reflected on her participation in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The cyclist from Waimate battled years of back injuries and endometriosis to get back on the bike and worked hard to achieve a performance she could be proud of on the world stage.

The former St Kevin’s College student placed eighth in the team pursuit, with the team recording three personal times, and 10th in the omnium.


Years of grief finally came to an end for Kurow in July.

The Red Devils beat Valley 24-13 to win the Citizens Shield for the first time in 39 years. It was a monumental victory for the country club which had roaring support at Whitestone Contracting Centennial Park.

After the game, captain Josh Reid said Kurow was “lucky to have a team this year”.

“There are people in Kurow who are living for the rugby season – it’s exceptional. It means a lot to Kurow, ”said Reid.

The club were supported by Reid’s cousin and former Highlanders and Sunwolves player Hayden Parker, who returned for Kurow’s final games of the season.

Triple threat. . . Rachel Stocks of Palmerston and her horse Btr Windsong won Equestrian Sport New Zealand’s Senior Endurance Horse and Rider of the Year, Distance Horse of the Year and Senior Rider of the Year. PICTURES:


Rachel Stocks has made her way to the top of New Zealand sporting honors.

Palmerston rider and her horse, Btr Windsong, took home the New Zealand Endurance Horse and Senior Rider of the Year, Senior Rider of the Year and Distance Horse of the Year at the awards Equestrian Sport New Zealand in August. It was the first time in 13 years that a runner had won the first three accolades.

She was also instrumental in organizing the National Endurance Championships and Riding Competition in the Nenthorn Valley, the first time the event was held in East Otago.

Union rugby club coach Peter Stackhouse (right) and prop Jack Price after the epic Burns Shield final in Ngapara. PHOTO: UNION RUGBY CLUB


It was another piece of North Otago history.

The Presidents’ rugby final between Union and Kurow lasted 113 minutes – considered the longest game in New Zealand rugby – and Union ultimately prevailed when midfielder Ben Mavor shot the winning penalty to seal Game 18 -15.

It was an incredible end to the season for both teams and a fairytale end at home in Ngapara for Union.

The team has also rewritten its own history, after being beaten in overtime, just 90 minutes, last year by Valley.

Make it big. . . Weston’s Molly Loe received a full contract with the Otago Sparks for the 2021-2022 season. PHOTOS: PROVIDED


Molly Loe has had a pretty big year 2021.

In January, she was selected for New Zealand’s first women’s under-19 cricket team and has played a handful of games for the Otago Sparks as a replacement player.

Then, in October, Loe was named one of nine players on contract with the Otago Sparks for the 2021-22 season. That same month, the Weston cricketer made history when she became the first female cricketer to represent the prestigious Willows Cricket Club in Christchurch.

She continued to impress for the Sparks, winning two of seven in 13 deliveries in her side’s victory over Central Hinds in the Super Smash game on Saturday.



“Everyone grows up dreaming of representing their country”.

This is how Logan Docherty described receiving another black jersey when he was named to New Zealand’s Under-21 heavyweight quadruple scull team in April.

He attended a three-day trial at Lake Karapiro in Cambridge to be part of the team and said he was quite confident on day two he would arrive in the boat.

Docherty has always been a light rower but was selected for the highest weight and looked forward to the challenge.

The honor was a great follow-up for the Oamaru rower who in 2019 was named to the Under-21 lightweight sculls team.

Green light. . . The Trustees of the Waitaki Event Center Trust (left to right) reviewing the plans for the adopted Waitaki Event Center are Kevin Malcolm, Adair Craik, Denise McMillan and Deidre Senior. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE


After years of discussions, the Waitaki Event Center has finally received the green light.

Kevin Malcolm, Adair Craik, Deidre Senior and Denise McMillan formed the Waitaki Event Center Trust and led the community’s fundraising efforts. They will also be involved in the development of the center.

Doug and Donna Hurst generously pledged up to $ 5 million to the project, and Waitaki District Council adopted a proposal into the 2021-2031 Long-Term Plan in July in which it agreed to contribute up to 10 millions of dollars.

Centennial Park has been approved as the new home for the six-court center and a new board is being established to oversee the development of the center. It is on track for an opening in 2024.

About Frances R. Smith

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