Te Awamutu siblings Devon and Zara Howells are set on success – and at the speed of this sport, it won’t take either long to get there.
The pair are training for this weekend’s 2024 Banked Track Speed Skating Championships at Melville Park’s Hamilton Roller Skating Club, where they are members.
It is the first time either have competed, and 12-year-old Devon – a Te Awamutu Intermediate School student – and Zara, 10, who attends Pokuru School, are Te Awamutu’s only competitors.
They are among 15 representing their Hamilton club, and about 100 speed skaters nationwide expected at the championships.
The siblings got their first pair of inline skates in 2020 and learned to speed skate in early 2022.
They played inline hockey – on inline skates – which involved frequent travel to Whanganui to take part in competitions, then switched to speed skating after being approached by Hamilton Roller Skating Club stalwart Kathy Moody.
In preparation for this weekend, the siblings have been completing skate training three times a week.
Devon will compete in the cadet age group for 12-14-year-olds in a 200m, 500m, 1000m, and a 5km points elimination race – in which lapped competitors are eliminated.
Zara will compete in the juvenile category for 10 and 11-year-olds, with a 200m, 500m, a 1000m and a 3000m race in her sights.
Mum Kim said the championships will provide somewhat of a litmus test as to how far they then want to take speed skating.
Speed skating beginners start out on inline skates, and progress to other types of skates. Skates come with different numbers of wheels and wheel sizes.
Devon uses four-wheel skates with 100mm wheels, the largest he can skate with until progressing to 110mm wheels at 15. Zara qualified for next month’s nationals while still skating in inline skates.
She moved up to using speed skates six months ago – and now uses three-wheeled skates with 90mm wheels.
Kim would like to see speed skating grow at school level in Te Awamutu.