Top skaters in Waimate

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Waimate was inundated with champion skaters on Saturday.
Timaru’s Bill and Cheryl Begg were the forces behind the huge international meeting of inline speed skaters at the Waimate Caledonian Society Caledonian Games.
Competitors included French inline speed skater and world champion Elton De Souza, and brothers Krystopf and Simon Pravda, of the Czech Republic.
But the couple also pulled in racers closer to home, such as Timaru’s Leah McDonald, the New Zealand under-17 speed skating champion.
Mr Begg said speed skating gave children in provincial centres a sport in which they could excel, and there was ample room to take their discipline internationally.
Children did not have to move to bigger centres to make their way in sport, he said.
“People came from around the world to spend time in little ol’ Timaru. They don’t have to go to Auckland.”
Mr Begg, an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, is the South Canterbury Roller Skating club head coach and Mrs Begg is a former triple world champion speedskater and a club coach.
Ms McDonald (16), of Timaru, said events such as the Caledonian Games opened up her sport to the public.
“The good thing is there’s not a lot of people in New Zealand who do it so it can be easier to get national titles … and you become really close friends with a lot of them. It’s a good community”
Ms McDonald had been skating since she was 8.
“I did ballet and my brother started skating and I got jealous of him.”
In her racing career she had already visited China twice and was looking forward to competing in the junior world championships there in September.
Mr Begg said he spent a lot of time with children trying to get them to push past their self-imposed limits so they could reach their targets.
Mr and Mrs Begg are the parents of Nicole Begg, a former world champion inline speed skater.