Nelson underwater hockey players and world champions Naomi Anderson and Greta Clark with coach Warwick King. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Nelson teens crowned underwater world and national champions

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After winning an underwater hockey world title and being named the best U19 player on the planet, Greta Clark came home and slept for 17 hours.

Greta and fellow Nelson College for Girls student Naomi Anderson were members of the New Zealand U19 team which won the World Championships in Sheffield last month.

The team went unbeaten throughout the three weeks tournament, culminating with a close 3-2 win over Columbia.

The Kiwis were down to four players in the pool at one stage after having two players sin binned.

However, despite the added pressure, the side held on to continue the New Zealand dynasty.

The U19 as well as the U24 teams have held the world titles every year except 2015.

New Zealand were largely unchallenged until meeting the South Americans, defeating South Africa 17-0, France 16-0 and the hosts 14-0 in pool play.

To cap a stellar campaign, captain Greta was named best player at the tournament.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet.”

Greta says she was riddled with emotion following the final whistle.

“I think I cried four times.”

She says adrenaline carried them through until about two days after the tournament where she “conked” out and slept for almost a day.

Greta has still yet to full process the “uncomfortable tag” of the world’s best female U19 player.

Naomi says it was a mixture of relief and excitement after the final.

She says it was the most exciting tournament she has been involved in.

“We all get along really well, so it was so much fun, playing really good hockey with really cool people.”

There was little time to celebrate for the young women as they had less than two weeks to prepare for nationals last week.

However, despite the hectic schedule, the pair would enjoy the same success on the national stage.

Nelson College for Girls took out the competition in Wellington with both Greta and Naomi again named in the tournament team.

Nelson beat Epsom Girls Grammar 4-2 in the semifinal before defeating Otumoetai in the grand final by the same scoreline.

Greta says becoming a national and world champion in the space of two weeks has sparked a desire to play more.

“It’s still quite surreal but really happy because it had been a dream for a very long time.”