ON YOUR MARKS: Max and Sophie Kirk part of Peter Blackwood’s coaching group, take off in a running race at the Whakatane Athletic and Harriers Club last Thursday. Photos Troy Baker D9861-01

SAYING some members of the Whakatane Athletic and Harriers Club were excited to return to training last week is an understatement.

Sophie and Max Kirk, Odin Herrick, Lily and Ben Hipkiss, Lily Anderson, Amanda Brickle, Lily Hayward and Olly Handley-Elder were all smiles as they tested each other out at the athletics club following seven weeks of individual training forced on them by Covid-19.

The athletes were assembled by their club coach Peter Blackwood to do a series of running drills.

It was a coaching session that couldn’t have come soon enough.

Following the restrictions of alert level three and four, which prevented athletes from training together outside their bubbles, the move to level two has been welcomed by the althletes.

It means they can train with their clubmates again, albeit in groups of up to 10.
When asked who was the fastest, they all had different answers.

LEFT OR RIGHT: Odin Herrick leaves it late as he tries to catch his clubmate Olly Handley-Elder during an exercise at the athletics track last Thursday. Photo Troy Baker DD861-15

Amanda said Lily was the fastest, while others voted for Amanda, with Ben also bagging a few nominations.

Overall, there was no winner, they just loved being back at the club sprinting against their clubmates.

They are looking forward to the time when the groups of 10 can be expanded so they can train alongside more of their junior club members.

“It’s been great to be able to socialise while training again.’’ Amanda said.

Asked if Blackwood was a good coach, they all had a reply.

“He’s a really good coach and I enjoy him taking me,’’ Odin said.

Blackwood said he was loving having them all back together and doing things they like.

“It might not be much but it’s a start. It’s been awesome being able to see how much they have missed training alongside each other but also how much they have done,’’ he said.

Blackwood said it was also nice seeing the parents again and see them interacting with each other on the sidelines.