District Judge supports schools dream of competing in Kathmandu Coast to Coast

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Even the Prime Minister got behind a group of Porirua students bid for support to compete in February’s Kathmandu Coast to Coast.

Hutt Valley District court judge Arthur Tompkins has competed in various categories of the event six times and was inspired to reach out to Aotea College principal Kate Gainsford, who he went to university with 35 years ago, to suggest entering a team from the school.

“The principal was really enthused about the idea,” Tompkins said. “Something they thought perhaps couldn’t be done is now happening for four boys from Aotea College who are role models for finding a dream and following it.”

The students will all do one of the disciplines of the event each with Ryan Tait taking on the cycling, Tom Gibbs will do the mountain run and Swedish exchange student Axel af Klercker is the kayaker while Toby Devine is the kayaker in a staff team the College is also entering.

The school has been given a major boost as recipients of this year’s Kathmandu Coast to Coast Academy support package.  They will receive entry into the event, Kathmandu training gear, a free camping spot at Kumara Junction for team members and support crew, support with specialist equipment, including a kayak and bike, support for Axel completing a grade-two kayaking course and coaching from nine time Kathmandu Coast to Coast winner Steve Gurney.

As part of their Kathmandu Coast to Coast Academy application Tompkins wrote to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who sent a video message of support and encouragement.

“To get her support was fantastic,” Tompkins said. “Winning the Academy package means so much as well. It’s really an affirmation that what they thought was an impossible dream is becoming very real and that they are worth supporting.”

The idea of competing in the event was floated at a school assemble three months ago with Tompkins very committed to mentoring the boys.

“They are so enthused about it and its really gathering momentum. It’s a real team effort and it’s going to be an amazing journey for everyone involved. I really wanted the boys to participate in an iconic event in stunning scenery that would really embrace the outdoors, so the Coast to Coast was obviously it”  

Tompkins said the boys were all training well three to four times a week and he was hoping the two kayakers would be able to make it down to Canterbury to compete in the Rasdex Classic River Race on Saturday 8 December, an event that is on the same course as the 67 kilometre kayak leg of the Coast to Coast.

Kathmandu Coast to Coast Event Director Glen Currie said Schools Academy was all about providing school groups that wouldn’t normally have access to an event like the Coast to Coast an opportunity to compete and be supported along the way.

“We are committed to growing participation from schools and younger aged competitors, within endurance sport” Currie said. “Reaching out to young people and enabling them to participate and experience the joys of endurance sport as they choose their sporting pathways in life means there’s a good chance they could make these activities a part of their lifestyle and go on to develop a passion for both endurance exercise and events. Plus benefitting from the proven health benefits that come with this.”

The Kathmandu Coast to Coast is also supporting Cameron Young, who is competing in a three person team, through the Adult Academy. Young is competing to raise funds and awareness for Crohn’s & Colitis NZ.

The Aotea College team will compete in the New Zealand Secondary Schools Sports Council sanctioned Coast to Coast Schools Two Day team three person teams event.

The Kathmandu Coast to Coast gets underway with the two day event on Friday February 8 while the Longest Day World Championship one day event is held on the following day.

The 35 year old event is full at its earliest point in fourteen years with record breaking numbers with February’s event set to eclipse 2004’s largest field ever of 920 competitors across both teams and individuals. 

Photo credit: NZ Herald/Mark Mitchell Aotea College has been given a major boost as recipients of this year’s Kathmandu Coast to Coast Academy support package.  Mentor Judge Arthur Tompkins with Toby Devine (left) the kayaker in the staff team, while Axel af Klercker, Tom Gibbs and Ryan Tait will compete as the Aotea College school team.


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