Sprinter Andrew Kennedy will be competing at the New Zealand Track and Field Championship in Wellington this weekend. Photo: Phillip Rollo.

Sprinter aiming for Commonwealth Games

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Having lived, trained and raced in Germany in a bid to further his athletics career, Andrew Kennedy probably never expected a return to Nelson would see him finally reach his potential.

The 24 year old personal trainer finished fifth in the senior men’s 100m at last year’s New Zealand Track and Field Championship, and he heads to the same event this weekend having ran the fastest race of his life just last month – a wind assisted 10.68 seconds. While unable to claim the time as a personal best, due to the illegal wind, it has still given him a huge boost ahead of the national championship in Wellington, and he backed that up by running 10.82 seconds just a fortnight ago. “Looking at the times I’ve been running, wind assisted or not, and the times the other guys have been running, looking at a medal is not out of the question. You’d never say never anyway, but running that 10.68 seconds definitely gave me more confidence. When it comes to the competition I’ve consistently been getting better.”

With Athletics Zealand committed to qualifying relay squads for the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games, it’s certainly a good time to be a sprinter in New Zealand. Andrew is currently part of the ten-man high performance 4x100m squad, although qualifying for the event in Glasgow this year is becoming less likely with the qualification time unable to be met in all three attempts so far. While he hasn’t been part of the A squad that has competed in Australia with the hope of qualifying, Andrew knows a top six, or top four finish at nationals will increase his chances of being involved in future squads. “There are ten guys in there at the moment and I’m floating around the B or C team. With that time [10.68 seconds] I’d expect to be in the B team, but they haven’t named another squad yet. But a top finish will definitely help the cause.”

Even if a New Zealand 4x100m relay doesn’t qualify for the Commonwealth Games, it has stated that qualification for the Olympics is the “longer term objective”.

Andrew, who will head to Wellington as part of a 25-strong Tasman team, will also be competing in the 200m sprint. He made the final in that event last year, but is definitely favouring his chances in the 100m instead. His new coach Brodie Hewlett, who Andrew credits for his progress this season, says Andrew’s training should benefit him in the longer sprint – where his personal best is 22.38 seconds. “The training has been looking fairly promising for the 200m. Recently in his last 200m sessions he did his first 21 second 200m which is the fastest he’s done in training. We just haven’t had a chance to test it out [in a race] because of his schedule,” he says.

Andrew says “it’s always nice to run fast times”, but his focus will purely be in a placing at nationals, as he hopes to secure his first ever national medal. “But I would love to go out there and run two legal PBs. I’m feeling good.”