Dunedin contingent at games

Take-off . . . Dunedin junior athletes prepare for this weekend's South Island Colgate Games at the Caledonian Ground on Tuesday. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

Dunedin’s junior athletes are aiming for personal bests at this weekend’s South Island Colgate Games.

Between 70 and 80 children from Ariki, Hill City and Taieri athletics clubs will be among the 986 South Island athletes set to compete.

Athlete Kotomiyo Cowell (11), of Ariki Athletics, will attend the games for the second time.

She liked that the games allowed people from around the South Island to compete and get to know each other.

Her favourite events were 1500m and 800m runs, and she hoped to get a medal.

Sarah Donaldson (13), of Athletics Taieri, said she was aiming to get personal bests.

She hoped to jump higher than 1.35m in the high jump, and finish the race walk.

Eva Sander (14), of Hill City, wanted to get a personal best in the shot put and do well in the 100m run.

“Hopefully our relay team gets placed,” she said.

Christchurch will host the games for the first time since the 2011 earthquake, which forced the closure of Queen Elizabeth II Park.

It will be held in the city’s new sports stadium, Nga Puna Wai Sports Hub.

Athletics Canterbury general manager Ian Thomas, who is on the games organising committee, said it was an exciting milestone for the city.

He was “delighted” to host the games once again, and said the new venue represented a new era for athletics in the region.

“Today, more than ever, our young athletes need to build their inner resilience and these games foster the friendship and support that helps these young people celebrate their victories as well as cope with their defeats.”

Athletics New Zealand chief executive Peter Pfitzinger said participation in the North Island and South Island games had remained strong in their 42-year history.

“Athletics is a foundation sport that teaches movement skills that are transferrable, and with such a range of events to choose from there really is something for everyone.”

The South Island Colgate Games will be held from January 17 for athletes aged 7-14 years old.