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Don Oliver Scholars shine at Glasgow and around the world


West Aucklanders brought home a gold and ‘five’ silver medals from the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and one of each colour went to Don Oliver Youth Sport Foundation past scholar, Lauren Boyle. The other four silvers went to Anna Harrison, Maria Tutaia, Catherine Latu and Laura Langman, all Mystics members of the aptly named Silver Ferns.

Lauren was one of four past Don Oliver scholars who travelled to Glasgow as part of the New Zealand 2014 Commonwealth Games team, and she recently become New Zealand’s all-time most successful woman swimmer at the Pan Pacific Championships held in August.

Other Don Oliver Scholars were former young cyclist of the year Stephanie McKenzie, who placed 4th in the Women’s Time Trial; Matthew Madsen, the former junior Commonwealth Games and Oceania champion weightlifter, who placed 6th) in the up to 77kg class and; Alexis Pritchard who, two years ago in London, was one of the first two women boxers ever to represent New Zealand at an Olympics.

Thomas Kingsmill, a current scholar, was a member of the New Zealand men’s waterpolo team that placed 5th at the Commonwealth Waterpolo Championships at Aberdeen.

These Westie athletes were joined by Commonwealth Games wrestler Soukananh Thongsinh. Soukananh was born in Laos and is now naturalised New Zealander, a former Kelston Boys High student and now a teacher. Soukananh rose above many obstacles in life to represent his new country at Glasgow.

There can be little doubt that these Don Oliver scholars and a fair number of others still to reach their full potential, will be lining up for the Rio Olympics in 2016. Without putting too great a weight of expectation on her shoulders, a key prospect must be Gabrielle Fa’amausili the only Gold scholar this year. Gabrielle is already a junior world champion with her fastest and strongest years still ahead of her. She was flag bearer and a bronze medallist at this year’s Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China.

Don Oliver Scholars also in the Youth Olympics team, included swimmer Michael Mincham and wrestler/judoka Brahm Richards. Tyla Nathan Wong continues to shine in her three rugby codes and notably the Women’s Sevens. Diver Elizabeth Cui with four national titles this year has won a spot at the World Junior Championships in Russia and Danielle Sutherland continues her development in hockey.

The West continues to punch above its weight in sporting achievement!

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