Liam Prouting-Gardner has found his way back to the track.
After joining North Otago Athletics Club at the age of 10, Liam walked away from the sport a year later as there was no senior coach to help him progress.
Eighteen months ago, Liam (17) joined the club, under new club coach Sue Brydges, who took sessions for senior competitive athletes.
Brydges helped Liam find his discipline, the 400m, and since then the longer distance had been his focus.
“I can’t be a 100m sprinter because I can’t pick up the pace, so my coach pointed me to the 400m – it was really good,” Liam said.
The St Kevin’s College pupil’s focus and hard work paid off last month when he won silver in the Under-18 400m at the New Zealand Athletics Championships. He also placed eighth in the 300m hurdles.
While competing in his first big event on the national stage was a great experience, Liam knew he was capable of more.
”I didn’t chuffed with her, because I knew my performance could have been better, but it was still very nice to receive. [a medal].”
Prior to heading to the Nationals, Liam applied for the Otago Academy of Sport Talent Development Program, and after his strong showing at the Championships, he was selected. He is the only athlete from North Otago on the 2022 program.
The program, led by Carmel Leslie, currently focuses on theory, teaching athletes how to take care of their nutrition and bodies. Liam will travel to Dunedin for the training sessions, and a training program tailored to his needs.
Brydges has encouraged Liam to apply for the program, and he looks forward to the additional benefits it may bring him.
“My coach said to me, ‘This will give you a better understanding of what you need to do to get on the right path,'” he said.
Liam enjoyed the competitive side of athletics and the social side.
At present, he was concentrating on winter training and the football season, before competing in the national high school championships at the end of the year.
He hoped more senior athletes would get involved with North Otago Athletics.
”There are three seniors, but the others are 9 and 10 years old, so it would be nice to see them go all the way. ”