A Maniototo pupil is quickly rising through the athletics ranks and his progress is coming on in leaps and bounds.
Doug Smith, of Maniototo Area School, came second in the triple jump, third in the high jump and seventh in the long jump at the South Island Secondary Schools Championships held in Dunedin between March 31 and April 2.
The high placings in the under-14 category carry on his good form at the Otago and Otago-Southland Secondary Schools Championships where he finished first in the high and triple jumps and second in the long jump at both meets.
Smith said he was very pleased with his string of recent results.
“It’s pretty good to get recognised. The support from [the school and community] has been amazing.”
He said he enjoyed attending the meets as they were a rare opportunity for him to gauge his progress.
Despite his consistently good performances in 2017, Smith was not getting ahead of himself and was targeting the New Zealand Secondary Schools Championships next year.
Smith is largely self-taught in the three jumping disciplines, with occasional help from his older brother, Ben.
He said his training and fitness came from helping out on the family sheep farm near Naseby.
“My home training is on the farm. It probably gives me a bit of an advantage over the town kids because they don’t get to do that sort of stuff.”
Maniototo Area School deputy principal Alec Campbell said Smith’s results were very impressive considering he did not train under a coach.
He said Smith had the potential to go even further if he had professional training.
Mr Campbell said Smith was a multi-talented athlete whose skills also extended to the rugby field.
He said Smith had a natural ability as an athlete and he could probably turn his hand to any athletic pursuit and expect to do well.
“He’s an exceptional young man. Everything he touches turns to gold.”