In a year that probably defies description, young Avondale College student Gabrielle Fa’amausili has become a Junior World Champion, world record holding back-stroker, New Zealand age group record holder in the 50 free (beating Lauren Boyle in the process) and this month, the 14 year old was named as the winner of the Halberg Emerging Talent Award.
She is the first West Auckland athlete to win this prestigious award that is reserved for the young New Zealand sporting talent most likely to succeed on the world and Olympic stage, in the future.
Gabrielle, at just 13, was the youngest swimmer in the FINA World Junior 50m Championships backstroke final, in Dubai, in August last year. She blasted off the start first and led throughout to beat out Russian Daria Ustinova and American Clara Smiddy, in a time of 28.64, half a second outside the world record of 28.14 she set in the heat.
Earlier in the day Gabrielle had qualified for the semifinals of the 50m freestyle, in a new national age group record of 26.10s. However, she concentrated on the backstroke, but two months later in October, she proved her freestyle class when she took out the New Zealand national title in the 50 free. She twice broke her own age group record at the nationals, finishing with a time of 25.33. She also beat Lauren Boyle, one of the world’s top women swimmers.
Perhaps training in the unheated, open-air, Avondale Intermediate pool is her secret weapon.
In addition to the Halberg Statuette, Gabrielle received a grant of $10,000 as part of the Award.