Competing with the best

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YVONNE O’HARA

yvonne.ohara@alliedpress.co.nz

As sporting families go, siblings Brooke (16) and Kane (18) Johnston, of Dumbarton, are up there with the best and they have the air miles to prove it.

They have been named as regional and New Zealand representatives in their chosen sports and each month during the season regularly fly off for training and competition.

Brooke has been selected for the South Island team and the national New Zealand Area School paper team in netball, as well as the New Zealand Mounted Games Association (MGA) national team.

The MGA is for horse-and-rider teams to race, carry out agility and skill tasks and negotiate obstacles on and off horseback as fast as they can.

Kane is an Otago and New Zealand under-18 touch team member and will be going to Auckland in a couple of weeks for a talent identification training camp.

Their mother, Anne Johnston, said while the costs of travelling, accommodation and other expenses were high, she and husband Paul, who rode in the Horse of the Year competition last year, decided to encourage Brooke and Kane to do their best.

“We looked at it and they only get one shot at it, so we want them to give it a go,” Mrs Johnston said.

Brooke and a 19-year-old experienced games pony, Nikita, are keen competitors in MGA events.

“Nikita is small and nippy and has got a bit of an attitude,” Brooke said.

She started the sport about four years ago and her instructor, Wayne Harrex, encouraged her to try out for the Otago team and compete in the Horse of the Year event in Hastings last year.

She has been selected as a travelling reserve for the New Zealand team, which will compete against riders from seven other countries in the U17 World Mounted Games Team Championships, which will be held during the big Equitana equestrian event in Auckland next month.

She has already taken part in two training weekends in Christchurch and Auckland and this week has been attending another training event in Auckland.

She has also recently returned from a competition at Turangi and once this training camp is over will go to Hamilton for another competition.

Nikita is staying at a family friend’s place near Auckland for the next few weeks.

As well as studying carpentry in Dunedin, Kane plays for the Otago U18 touch team as a middle and the U18 New Zealand team as a wing.

He has been selected for a touch rugby talent identification U18 team camp this month in Auckland, part of the build-up to the U20 selection for the next Youth Transtasman series of test matches in January 2019.

He is one of only 90 New Zealand players invited to the camp.

“I was pretty stoked to get picked for that,” Kane said.

He will train in Dunedin for the Otago team and in Auckland for the New Zealand team.

Kane enjoys the sport, saying it is faster and more exciting than rugby.

That said, he also plays rugby for the Kaikorai Rugby Club and Metro representative U18 teams.