Emerging Talent | Adriana Mawhinney

Adriana Mawhinney is a talented young athlete who recently competed in the New Zealand Track & Field Championships in Hamilton where she picked up a silver in the Junior women’s high jump and bronze in the women’s triple jump. Prior to the championships, image central caught up with Adriana and her coach Tania Murray and captured some images of her training at Molyneux Park.

Words Adrian Morgan | Images Clare Toia-Bailey

Last week (17-19 March 2017) Adriana competed in one of her final meets representing the Alexandra Athletics Club. The athlete, who turns 19 at the end of the month (April), has recently departed her home town of Alexandra to start a gap year based in Wellington.

Adriana has come a long way since starting out in athletics as a 7 year old at The Terrace primary school. Last year she was selected to represent New Zealand at the Oceania Championships held in Tahiti. Adriana describes this event as her career highlight so far:

“Competing for New Zealand at Oceanias [sic]… I’d always wanted to do that, and when I got the opportunity to compete it was such an amazing experience.”

Despite very hot and humid conditions, Adriana managed to secure the gold medal for her triple jump (11.27 meters) and a bronze for her 1.60m high jump at the championships held in April 2016.

Adriana’s talent was spotted when she was around 10 years old and won regional track and field jumping competitions. She later went on to break some jumping records at the Otago regional championships. These include Otago age group records in triple jump with an 11.32m jump as a 14 year old and in high jump when she cleared the bar at 1.63m to achieve an Otago under 14 years record.

About this time Adriana started being coached by New Zealand’s most successful high jumper, 1990 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Tania Murray. Adriana says that Tania is someone who has had a profound influence on her career:

“Tania has inspired me. She was a small town girl like me and faced a lot of challenges with athletics and she went on to win Commonwealth Gold. So I really look up to her in that way.”

Adriana also acknowledges the strong influence of her parents who she has always had in the background ‘pushing me a long and helping me out’. At this point Tania joins the conversation and says, they have all been part of a team:

“It’s a very individual sport, so you really need a team around you. I learned that myself with competing. You need to gather a team around of talented and caring people. Because you can’t do it yourself and Adriana has had that team behind her.”

Leading up to the recent national championships, Adriana’s training has involved a lot of running – six times a week with long serving Dunstan High School athletics coach Alan ‘Bones’ Hamilton, and training three times each week with her coach, Tania. Adriana has also regularly competed in club athletics in Dunedin or travelled down to the Caledonian track for practice.

She is currently ranked 2nd in New Zealand for high jump (1.65 meters) and 4th in the country for triple jump (11.01 meters) in the under 20/Junior Women category.

Tania Murray, views the move to Wellington as providing an exciting opportunity for Adriana, as she says,

“She will be making a new team for herself up in Wellington. She has got those skills to gather the right people around her so she can take the world on … it’s Adriana’s time to stand up and go to that next level.”

There is plenty on the horizon for Adriana to focus on. She is aiming to get another chance to represent New Zealand again in the Oceania Regional Championships in Fiji (late June 2017). She also holds a strong ambition to represent New Zealand at a Commonwealth Games and then Olympics – ‘that’s my big dream’ Adriana says.

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