Western Leader : January 20th 2012
www.westernleader.co.nz 11 WESTERN LEADER, JANUARY 20, 2012 SPORT Aleh and Powrie in Olympic squad By KERRY GALLAGHER London-bound: Jo Aleh, left, with her coach Nathan Handley and crewmate Olivia Powrie. With a strong build-up and solid results behind her, Jo Aleh was among the first members named in an expected 200-strong New Zealand squad for the Olympics in London later this year. The Muriwai resident and her 470 class sailing partner Olivia Polly'' Powrie were confirmed by New Zealand Olympic Committee selectors shortly before Christmas. Other sailors included are Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (49er), Andrew Murdoch (laser), Jon Paul Tobin (RS:X), Paul Snow Hansen and Jason Saunders (men's 470), Stephanie Hazard, Jenna Hansen and Susannah Pyatt (women's match racing) and Sara Winther (laser radial). The athletes' nomination and selection followed robust performances at the Sailing World Championships in Perth. Aleh and Powrie, known as Team Jolly -- a combination of Jo and Polly, took bronze at the World Championships as the New Zealand crews recorded a silver and two bronze overall. The athletes were selected following nomination to the New Zealand Olympic Com- mittee by Yachting New Zea- land. Yachting New Zealand Olympic director Jez Fan- stone says the athletes make up a young team with strong podium potential. The Olympic sailing course is at Weymouth in the south of England where conditions are expected to favour the New Zealand sailors. They're well-balanced con- ditions not unlike the East Coast Bays of Auckland,'' Fanstone says. Aleh and Powrie have already had success on the course, winning the Sail for Gold regatta and finishing fourth in a pre-Olympic test event last year. New Zealand has been rep- resented in Olympic sailing since Melbourne in 1956 where Jack Cropp and Peter Mander won gold in the Sharpie class. A total of 16 Olympic medals -- seven gold, four silver, five bronze -- have been won by Kiwi yachtsmen and women. The New Zealand team is expected to include athletes from 17 sports. Rally a success for Birch Six months of prep- aration paid off for Waimauku enduro motorbike rider Chris Birch when he crossed the finish line in the 2012 Dakar Rally. Birch made it to Lima, Peru, on Sunday and achieved his goal of completing the famous race. But the feat nearly didn't occur when he misjudged a jump on Saturday. The 31-year-old crashed and suffered minor injuries while competing on the 13th stage of the rally. There was a big drop- off that wasn't really marked on the route book and it took me a bit by surprise,'' he wrote on his website. I jumped about three metres down and just landed wrong, face planting into the safety equipment on the bike. I thought I had broken my nose and I sort of knocked myself out for a second as well. Not only that, I sprained my ankle pretty bad.'' Despite showing the scars of his tumble on his face, Birch battled on to finish the final stage in 40th place, good enough for 27th overall. He was only one of 98 riders in the motorbike category to complete the rally. More than 178 riders started the race on January 1. Tips from the top for touring Kiwi baseball reps Major talk: Major League baseball players Chris Woodward, left, and Nick Hundley give advice to the New Zealand under-18 baseball squad in Avondale. Photo: TUREI MACKEY With just days to go before the New Zealand under-18 baseball team travel to Guam to compete in under-18 Oceania championships, the side got a few tips from the pros. The team will compete at the tournament on January 27 against sides from Aust- ralia, Palau, Northern Marina Islands, Guam and American Samoa. Major League baseball infielder Chris Woodward of the Toronto Blue Jays and catcher Nick Hundley of the San Diego Padres stopped by a training session at the Fieldhouse in Avondale to watch and give advice on bat- ting techniques to the 20 players. The pair, along with Boston Red Sox pitcher Mark Melan- con, have been in Auckland promoting the sport. Baseball New Zealand executive officer Ryan Flynn is happy with the continu- ation of professional players coming to the country to promote the game. We have caught the eye of Major League Baseball and the wider baseball com- munity,'' he says. Our playing numbers have jumped from 1000 to 6000 registered players and the talent and desire is here in New Zealand for it to grow.'' Under-18 head coach Matt Mills says the players enjoyed a chance to learn from real Major League tal- ent. They loved it and it was a thrill to have guys like Chris and Nick at our disposal,'' he says. It was good because both reinforced what we have already been preaching to the players. It was building on fundamental stuff we have gone over before.'' Mills says the aim will be to win all six matches at the Oceania tournament. When we step on to the field the goal is to win. We have got 12 guys who have played for a national side before -- the others have come over from softball,'' he says. Te Atatu based club West City Wild Cats and its affiliated team West City- Metro has several players in the under-18 squad with Pita Rona, Tim Olliff, Casey Nukunuku, Lewis Jerard, Mitch James, Vinny Harris, Mak Fox, Sam Clerk and Richard Clarke included. Avondale College student Quinten Niu, who plays for North Shore City, also made the side. Surfers head in to finals at champs Standout: Piha's Liam Joyce was a standout at the National Surfing Championships but failed to make the quarter-finals. Photo: CRAIG LEVERS/PHOTOCPL The nation's best surfers hit the water in the open men's division at the national surfing champs this week, bringing flare to the best con- ditions Piha has seen in the new year. The Gisborne surfers proved the best of the bunch with Bobby Han- sen scoring 18.10 out of 20 in his third heat and Jay Quinn scoring a 12.43 in his quest for a third national title. Hansen made an impressive comeback after sitting out much of 2011 due to injuries. I was super nervous in my first two heats, I guess from not surfing competitively for a while, but I am feeling better now for sure,'' he says. Piha surfers Liam Joyce, Bevan Wiig, Tane Wallis, Ryan Hawker and Elliot Paerata-Reid all per- formed well but failed to qualify for the knock-out stages. Paerata-Reid did well in the under-16 boys division scoring 15.33 during the heats. I have a huge advantage being at home and today my dad scoped out the line-up while I was warming up and stretching,'' he says. I know where to sit but he points places out as well and that helps to confirm everything for me.'' The finals are tomorrow at Piha between 8.30am and 2pm. Go to www.westernleader.co.nz to see highlights of the under-16 boys division.
January 19th 2012
January 24th 2012