By the time you have finished reading this sentence, Schuyler Orr has run around the block. Twice. The Waitaki Boys’ High School year 13 pupil is the quickest thing on two legs in the entire province. He won the Otago senior men’s 100m and 200m titles last month, and recently smashed two senior records – one of which had been matched but not beaten in 85 years – at the Waitaki Boys’ athletic sports. Hayden Meikle talks to the young sprinter.
Q: How old are you, Schuyler?
Q: How do we pronounce the name? “Skyla” or “Shyla” or something like that?
Yeah, I get so many different versions. The C catches a lot of people out. It’s “Shoyler”. It’s Dutch.
Q: How did it feel to break those two records at the Waitaki Boys’ school sports, the 100m (11.25sec, breaking Blair Grant’s 2011 record) and the 75 yards (7.72sec, breaking the record of 8.0sec that had stood since 1932)?
When I broke the 75 yards, I wasn’t expecting it. I burst into tears. Just total joy. I was quite emotional about it. The 100m was different. I wasn’t emotional at all. My start actually wasn’t very good. So I was sort of excited to break the record but I actually wasn’t over the moon with how I ran the race.
Q: The 75 yards is sort of just a Waitaki Boys’ thing, right?
Yeah, you never run it at any Otago meets. It’s strictly Waitaki Boys’. It feels quite different to run it. It’s all about the start. You just have to go flat out.
Q: What are your fastest 100m and 200m times?
My best 100m time overall is 11.06sec, but that was with the wind at the Otago champs. My legal best is 11.34sec at the Jack Lovelock Classic in January. My best 200m time is the 23.10sec I ran at Aorakis last week. I hope to run quicker in the 100m this year. That’s my main event. But I’m slowly improving in the 200m as well. I need to work on how I run the bend.
Q: When did you first realise you could run fast?
As soon as I started school, really. Primary school. I was always known as “the fast kid”. But I never took it seriously until year 8. One of my teachers told me I should really start to think about competitive athletics. I’d just been doing school sports up till then.
Q: How often do you train, and who is your coach?
I’ve been coached by Brent Ward, one of the top coaches, since about 2014. He’s got a big group of athletes who work together. I go down to Dunedin on Thursdays to work with him, and I do two or three other sessions up here.
Q: What do you enjoy about sprinting?
That’s a tough question. I’ve got asthma, and I find that really motivates me to train as hard as I can and push my limits and see where I can go with running.
Q: What’s the next major event on the calendar?
The South Island schools championships are April 1 to 2. I’m going to try hard to get a placing. My best there is fifth in the 100m, so I’d love to get in the top three. But the big goal is just breaking 11sec.
Q: What’s your plan when you leave school?
I don’t really know. I’m just going to take it day by day. With athletics, I just want to take it as far as I can. I think I’ll be running till I die, really.
Maybe I’ll switch to something like long jump when I get older.