Nelson underwater hockey players who won medals at the world championships in Hobart, Australia, recently. They are, from left; Thomas Marris-Craddock, 17, Jessica Sturrock, 19, Tessa Timms, 18, and Sam Hopgood, 18. Photo: Andrew Board.

Gold for underwater hockey players

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Nelson’s underwater hockey players have returned home from the world championship with varying colours of medals.

Jessica Sturrock, 19, won gold with the New Zealand under-23 women’s team and Tessa Timms, 18, also won gold with the New Zealand under-19 women’s squad.

Thomas Marris-Craddock, 17, and Sam Hopgood, 18, won bronze with the New Zealand under-19 men’s team.

The championships were held in Hobart, Australia, in mid-July.

For Jessica, a nursing student at NMIT, winning gold has also been an opportunity to brag a little. Her brother Justin has also won silver and a bronze in previous world championships, but never a gold.

“I’ve rubbed it in a bit with him, but we’re really close so he’s been pretty supportive and happy about it.”

Jessica played a key role in the heart of defense for her side, which went the entire second half of the championships, including the final, without conceding a goal. New Zealand beat reigning champions Columbia 5-0 in the final.

New Zealand beat reigning champions Columbia 5-0 in the final.

“We were really happy, we got better and better throughout the tournament.”

Tessa, a Nelson College for Girls pupil, also won gold with the under-19 side and, like Jessica’s under-23 team, she says the team got better and better.

In pool play they escaped with a 2-1 win over South Africa to eventually go on and beat hosts Australia in the final 8-0.

Nelson College’s Thomas and Sam’s under-19 team weren’t quite so dominant, dropping two pool games before losing 2-1 to Great Britain in the semi-final. Earlier in pool play they lost 5-2 to the British.

“We were really gutted, we scored really early in the game and then couldn’t score again,” says Sam.

The Brits rallied and scored the winner right at the end of the game.

“It was horrible, but we were determined to win the third and fourth playoff game,” says Thomas.

“We had to come home with a medal.”

And they did, destroying Australia 5-0 to claim the bronze.