Paige Cregeen, centre, with Rozie Robinson on her left, during a coaching session at Saxton Field Athletics Track last week. Photo: Jessie Johnston.

Local race-walker heads to nationals

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In preparation for her first major race-walking competition, Nelson athlete Paige Cregeen received a helping hand from New Zealand’s number two race walker Rozie Robinson, in a one-on-one coaching session last week.

The sixteen-year-old Nayland College student started out in the sport four years ago after her mother, who is a keen power walker, pointed out a race walker to her.

“So, I tried to do it and it just came naturally and I just started doing more races,” says Paige. “I feel that when I’m walking, everything is just gone off my mind and it’s just me and race walking.”

Having raced locally on the track and around the streets, Paige is looking forward to tackling her first major competition, the New Zealand Secondary School Track, Field and Road Race Championships, which will be held in Hastings in early December.

It also happens to be the biggest track and field event in New Zealand.

It was at a coaching seminar in Timaru a few weeks ago that coach Peter Hague got talking to Rozie about his student and her upcoming competition.

“I’ve known Rozie for quite a while and she offered to come up and do a one-on-one with Paige, so I said, yes, why not,” says Peter.

Rozie says she is passionate about the younger generation, helping children and teenagers get into the discipline, enjoy it and want to carry on.

“I started walking when I was at Marlborough Girls, so knowing that there was another Tasman walker here, it seemed like the right thing to do, to come back to Tasman and help where I could,” says Rozie.

Saturday’s session focused on Paige’s technique and saw them talk about what she should expect for her first big race.

“She just needs to enjoy it, be herself, not get pulled into the hype of it and just treat it like another time trial, it’s just another 2km,” says Rozie.

Joining Paige and Rozie on Saturday was Jamie Shaw, another local race walker who has seen success on the national and international race walking stage. Rozie also ran a second coaching session for other Athletics Nelson walkers.