Cameron Brown’s normally impassive race-face was beaming proudly today as the ironman legend watched son Braeden compete at the NZCT AIMS Games in Tauranga.
Braeden finished third in the Year 8 boys multisport at the week-long tournament, which features 7500 intermediate-aged athletes competing across 17 sporting codes.
With Dad pitching in to help as support crew, the Somerville Intermediate student finished behind Taupo winner Kiaan Watts (Hilltop School) and talented Gisborne athlete Matthew Proffit (Ilminster).
“I got fifth here last year so I’m pretty happy,” Braeden said. “I do a lot of swimming and that helped on the kayak but it was pretty hilly on the mountain bike – probably one of the hardest races I’ve done.”
Brown Snr, 10-time winner of Ironman New Zealand, was delighted to see record numbers of competitors in the multisport race, held over three legs in the McLarens Falls reserve in the Kaimai Ranges.
“It’s a fantastic event and it’s grown from last year, with more and more kids doing it. It’s a tough race but it brings out the best in these kids and it’s a good Kiwi sporting event that they can shine in. It was great to see how much Braeden’s improved from last year too and he’s stoked – I’m a very proud dad and it will really give him some confidence.”
Taupo athletes featured heavily in the event, with Case Mastney-Jensen (Taupo Intermediate) also cleaning up in the Year 7 girls. Palmerston North Intermediate’s Adam Francis won the Year 7 boys, while Tauranga Intermediate’s Toni Power, inspired by coach Sam Shergold leaving tomorrow to compete in the world surf lifesaving championships, won the Year 8 girls after finishing second last year.
Silver in the Year 8 boys race also capped a huge week for Proffit, who won bronze in the event-opening cross country and also featured heavily in the swimming.
Like Braeden Brown, Proffit has also got an ironman influence in his life – in this case surf lifesaving legend Cory Hutchings, his coach at the Waikanae club in Gisborne – although getting him to pick his favourite sport is tricky.
“It’s hard to pick one sport but I really love my multisport – it’s such a good challenge and puts all my sports together,” Proffit said.
The tournament has also unearthed another freakishly talented female golfer in Bucklands Beach’s Rose Zheng.
The 12-year-old Year 7 student has opened up a six-shot lead over Focus Jonglikit (St Peters) going into tomorrow’s last round, after storming home in the third round today, one-under for the back nine on a pristine Tauranga Golf Club to finish with a two-over 74.
“I could’ve improved on some holes and had a double-bogey on the ninth hole, otherwise it would’ve been one of my best rounds,” the 1.5-handicapper said.
Rose has shot a 71 at Fitzroy in Taranaki and a one-under 72 at Ngaruawahia, incredible given she has only been playing for three years.
“My first goal was to beat Dad – now I want to play more tournaments. Dad doesn’t play now – he caddies for me!”
St Kentigern’s Karl Jorgenson had the best boys round with a 78, though he trails another Bucklands Beach student Jimmy Zheng by six shots after Zheng recorded a 79.
“I guess anything that’s six shots better than Jimmy will be a good start,” Jorgenson said of his aims tomorrow. “If it’s not in the 70s, I’m probably not going to have any chance.”
The rugby sevens is down to the final four teams, with Tauranga Intermediate and Hawera squaring off in one semifinal and St Peter’s (Auckland) and Glen Eden playing the other.
Aquinas College is emerging as a serious contender in the waterpolo, with Loui Schuler – son of former All Black Kevin – collecting 14 goals so far. Kristin School remains unbeaten in Pool B, with goalie Dominic Chen catching the eye, while Murrays Bay and Mount Maunganui are leading the charge in the girls division.
Get the latest results from the 2014 NZCT AIMS GAMES at www.nzaimsgames.co.nz or follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NZCTAIMSGAMES