ANZA teams welcomed

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The New Zealand and Australian teams passed through Oamaru yesterday in the 2013 ANZA Challenge.

The ANZA Challenge is a 1300km race around New Zealand involving the great and good of Australian and New Zealand sport and television.

The race, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation involves two teams running, rowing, cycling and sailing their way around New Zealand, finishing on Saturday.

The teams ran and cycled 360km from Christchurch to Dunedin, stopping off in Oamaru to collect funds to enable Halberg to continue its work to enable New Zealand youngsters to enjoy the magic of sport.

Field Hockey players Kate Hollywood and Gemma Flynn, along with Olympic rowing gold medallist Joseph Sullivan, visited Waitaki Boys’ High School to receive a $1000 donation, following $340 donation from Oamaru Intermediate School.

WBHS student Ben Johnston presented Sullivan with the cheque, which was raised via a mufti day with funds raised during the challenge going towards the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation.

Johnston competed at the the Regional Games for Special Olympics in Dunedin in December 2012 winning two silver medals in the Team Relay and Freestyle swimming events.

The 18-year-old has now qualified to compete in the New Zealand Games to be held in Dunedin in December.

Waitaki Boys’ sports co-ordinator Paula Symes said the school wishes the athletes well on the rest of their journey.

“We were obviously thrilled to have three outstanding athletes attend our assembly today in the Hall of Memories,” she said.

“We knew that they had to be back on the road fairly quickly so had tailored the assembly to meet their needs.

“Gemma Flynn was a positive and motivating speaker who also related well to the boys with her humour, WBHS wish them all well with the rest of the ANZA Challenge.”

Sullivan said the two teams are holding up well with the healthy competition spurring them on, the Olympian also commented on the warm welcome the two teams have received locally.

“The teams are great and moral is really high,” he said.

“We are going really well and enjoying it, there’s always competition between Kiwis and Aussies but it’s all going well.

“The schools were great, really welcoming, it’s (Oamaru) a cool town and the people have been friendly, it’s been really up beat.”

“There’s been a few niggles but every one is pretty fresh.”

Australia team member Jason Roberts, internationally known chef and cast member of the hit daytime talk show “The Chew” cited a highlight of the journey was visiting his birth town of Oamaru on Instagram.

“Amazing to compete on the @anzachallenge for @mcgrathfoundation …. But the real gold for me was the stop in #oamaru …. This is where it all started, drove past #waitakigirls where my nana and grandad goodman were the head caterers,”he wrote.

The teams will run from Hamilton to Auckland today before match racing America’s Cup yachts on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour tomorrow.

By James Ford and Rebecca Ryan