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Resilience. It’s the first word that comes to mind looking back at the mammoth sporting efforts by North Otago athletes, teams and organisations in another year disrupted by Covid-19. Kayla Hodge narrows it down to North Otago’s top 10 sporting moments of the year.

HAWKE CUP

Back in February, North Otago produced a monster win to claim the Hawke Cup for the third time in 12 years.

The Pete Cartwright-coached team beat Nelson by 250 runs – North Otago’s biggest win in the pinnacle trophy’s history. The side was bolstered by former Otago Volts player Nathan Smith, who returned home to play alongside brother Jeremy.

The win was extra special for captain Lachie Kingan, who scored a rare double in being part of North Otago’s Hawke Cup and Meads Cup-winning teams.

Hometown hero . . . Palmerston’s Courtney Duncan celebrates winning her third consecutive Women’s Motocross World Championship on Sunday. PHOTO: SUPPLIED/MXGP

PALMERSTON FLYER

What a year for Courtney Duncan.

The Palmerston motocross rider won her third consecutive Women’s Motocross World Championship title in October, winning by 31 points and coming back from a hefty crash that slightly fractured her finger.

She won the supreme award and sportswoman of the year at the Network Waitaki Sports Awards in March and has been nominated for sportswoman of the year at next year’s Halberg Awards.

Golden girls . . . The Oamaru Rowing Club women’s intermediate coxed eight, with coach Owen Gould, stands on the podium after winning gold at the New Zealand Rowing Championships in Twizel last weekend. PHOTO: SHARRON BENNETT PHOTOGRAPHER

GOING FOR GOLD

Oamaru eights are a rarity, so bringing home gold is that much sweeter.

The Oamaru women’s intermediate coxed eight – Georgie McCarthy, April Linares-Fontona, Amelia Wilkinson, Abbey Wilson, Bailey Chapman, Sophie Linares-Fontona, Lily Rawson, Sophie McMillian-Sinclair and Quinn Plunkett – won gold a the New Zealand Rowing Championships, in February.

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

ON THE TRACK

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

Those were the words of Holly Edmondston as she reflected on her time competing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The Waimate cyclist battled through years of back injuries and endometriosis to get back on the bike and worked hard to put in a performance she could be proud of on the world stage.

The former St Kevin’s College pupil placed eighth in the team pursuit, the team recording three personal-best times, and 10th in the ominium.

VICTORIOUS

Years of heartbreak 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 “blessed with a team this year”.

“There’s people in Kurow who live for rugby season – it’s outstanding. This means a lot for Kurow,” Reid said.

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

Triple threat . . . Palmerston’s Rachel Stocks, and her horse Btr Windsong, won Equestrian Sport New Zealand endurance senior horse and rider of the year, distance horse of the year, and senior rider of the year. PHOTOS:
SARAH HAMER COUNTRY ROAD PHOTOGRAPHY

IN THE SADDLE

Rachel Stocks rode her way right to the top of New Zealand sporting honours.

The Palmerston rider and her horse, Btr Windsong, won New Zealand endurance senior horse and rider of the year, senior rider of the year, and distance horse of the year at the Equestrian Sport New Zealand awards in August. It was the first time in 13 years a rider had claimed the top three accolades.

She was also instrumental in organising the National Endurance and Competitive Trail Riding Championships in 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

THE NEVER-ENDING GAME

It was another piece of North Otago history.

The presidents grade rugby final between Union and Kurow lasted for 113 minutes – believed to be the longest game in New Zealand rugby – and Union finally prevailed when midfielder Ben Mavor kicked the winning penalty to seal the game 18-15.

It was an incredible finish to the season for both sides and a fairy-tale finish at home, in Ngapara, for Union.

The team also rewrote its own history, having been beaten in extra time, only 90 minutes though, last year by Valley.

Made the big time . . . Weston’s Molly Loe has received a full Otago Sparks contract for the 2021-2022 season. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED

BREAKING BOUNDARIES

Molly Loe has had a pretty big 2021.

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

Then in October, Loe was named as one of nine fully contracted players for the Otago Sparks for the 2021-22 season. In the same month, the Weston cricketer made history being the first female cricketer to represent the prestigious Willows Cricket Club in Christchurch.

She has continued to impress for the Sparks, taking two for seven in 13 deliveries in her team’s win against Central Hinds in the Super Smash match on Saturday.

Logan Docherty. PHOTO: ROWING CELEBRATIONS

ON THE WATER

“Everybody grows up dreaming about representing their country”.

That is how Logan Docherty described receiving another black singlet when he was named in the New Zealand under-21 heavyweight quadruple sculls team in April.

He attended a three-day trial at Lake Karapiro, Cambridge, to make the team and said he was fairly confident by day two he would make it into the boat.

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

The honour was a great follow up for the Oamaru rower who, in 2019, was named in the under-21 lightweight double scull team.

Green light . . . Looking through the plans for the adopted Waitaki Event Centre are Waitaki Event Centre Trust trustees (from left) Kevin Malcolm, Adair Craik, Denise McMillan and Deidre Senior. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

FINALLY

After years of talk, the Waitaki Event Centre finally received the green light.

Kevin Malcolm, Adair Craik, Deidre Senior and Denise McMillan formed the Waitaki Event Centre Trust, and have been leading the community fundraising efforts. They will also be involved in the centre’s development.

Doug and Donna Hurst generously pledged up to $5 million to the project, and the Waitaki District Council adopted a proposal in the 2021-31 long-term plan in July in which it agreed to contribute up to $10 million.

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