Hard work at sports pays off for two pupils

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Two Columba College pupils are aiming high after being selected as New Zealand sporting representatives.

Year 7 pupil Sophie Derbyshire has been selected in diving, while year 9 pupil Saskia Learmouth will represent the country in mountain bike orienteering.

Both Sophie and Saskia said they were very excited to be selected, after plenty of dedication to their respective sports.

Sophie, from Mosgiel, already did gymnastics when she first started diving three years ago after watching it on television.

“So then Mum took to me to the pool and I gave it a bit of a go and really liked it,” she said.

After that, she joined the Diving Otakou club.

“It was easy to get the skills but hard to get the technique right.”

The 11-year-old juggled 10 hours of training a week alongside her school work, and because gymnastics and diving clashed on a Wednesday, she trained twice on a Sunday.

Sophie said she got up early and did her homework before school so she had time to fit everything in.

Saskia, from Queenstown, became interested in mountain bike orienteering when her father got her a bike four years ago.

She said she had started to do rogaines and orienteering on foot before she discovered you could do the sport while biking.

In 2017, Saskia became a boarder at Columba College and joined the Dunedin Orienteering club.

Since then she had competed at competitions throughout the South Island.

“Mountain bike orienteering is a relatively new sport so I compete in orienteering events both on foot and on my bike.”

Saskia said her favourite thing about it was that she was outside, reading a map and riding a bike at the same time.

“You focus so hard on where you’re going the biking just comes naturally and you don’t get puffed.”

Both girls said they were grateful for their families’ help and support to allow them to reach their goals.

Saskia said she was working on perfecting her navigation skills and aimed to compete in Australia next year.

Sophie said she was working towards representing New Zealand at her next competition in Singapore at the end of June.

“I get a lot of satisfaction from perfecting my technique,” she said.