Top talent, on the water and the courts

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St Kevin’s College year 13 pupil Hannah Cunningham is amassing quite the sporting CV. This year, she had a trial for the South Island rowing squad; she also captains the school basketball team and is vice-captain of its premier netball team. Oamaru Mail reporter Gus Patterson catches up with the talented teenager.

Q How did you get involved with so many different sports?

My family is pretty sporty. I also went to Weston Primary School which encouraged us to play as many sports as we liked. I was very lucky to have dedicated teachers and parents who supported me. I got into rowing through my sister – I was taken to rowing regattas, and had to sit around and watch her and I thought it would be better joining in. My mum took me down to learn to row at the end of year 8 and I have stuck with it. I can’t really remember a time when I haven’t played netball or basketball. I was always around the basketball and netball courts because all of my siblings played.

Q Do you have a favourite sport?

I can’t decide which is my favourite sport. I am actually glad rowing is in the summer and netball and basketball are in the winter, because I love the differences between them. Netball and basketball are such team sports and I love the team atmosphere they bring – learning to work as a team and having to rely on each other. On the other hand, as a singles rower it is all individual. I love how the results that I get in rowing are all up to me and no-one else. The more you put into it, the more you get out. However, rowing still has such a strong community environment.

Q Which one would you most like to pursue in the future?

To be honest, I am more likely to just play netball socially when I go to university next year. My studies are very important to me. I won’t be able to row competitively, as I would have to put in 15 hours minimum training per week and I don’t think I could do as well at university with that workload. I still love playing team sports and I am likely to join some type of team next year, whether this is netball or basketball.

Q How do you find time to juggle all these extra activities with your schoolwork?

It is definitely challenging. There are times I will come home from a hard rowing training and just want to go to sleep, but have a pile of homework. Rowing as a sport requires you to train for many hours a week to be competitive. With training one-and-a-half hours a day and many weekends away in Twizel, I would have to catch up on schoolwork. It was especially difficult when netball and basketball started at the end of last term and I was training for the South Island team trial. Time management becomes a skill you learn very quickly. You just have to find time between sports and school to do your work or at lunchtimes to catch up and stay on top of everything. Studies are very important to me, I got excellence overall in NCEA level 1 and 2 and this year I am also studying a university paper in microeconomics.

Q What are your plans for next year?

My plan for next year is to go to Canterbury University to study commerce/business. The course I am likely to take has a large variety of papers to choose from. I am going to .. see what I enjoy the most.