Ruby Sadler representing Gisborne Athletics Club
Gisborne Athletics Club will send only one athlete to this year's Colgate Games, with the club struggling to retain members.
Ruby Sadler will compete in the 100 metres, 200m and 400m races.
Over 1000 athletes, aged seven to 14, from 79 clubs will descend on Inglewood, just south of New Plymouth, for the 43rd annual North Island event.
Last year the club sent four athletes to the games, but typically sent eight to 10 athletes to the competition, club chairman Brian Lee said.
It had been hard to keep people engaged with the club in the Covid-19 environment.
Officials were all volunteers, and operating within Covid-19 restrictions implemented by Athletics New Zealand was nearly impossible.
“We just haven't had the membership . . . it's really disappointing.”
The lack of permanent facilities meant many local high-performance athletes had to travel for the training needed to be competitive, Lee said.
“We'd like to address that . . . we're looking to get a grant to pay (for a paid coaching position).”
Sadler's father Paul said they travelled to Hastings “once every couple of weeks” to train with professional-level coaches.
He said Ruby was given a training routine to follow while she continued to train in Gisborne on the grass track at Awapuni Stadium.
Lee said he expected Sadler to do well at the event. She had proven herself on the “undulating” track in Gisborne.
By contrast, Wairoa Athletics Club has nine athletes travelling to compete in the Colgate Games.
Club treasurer Donna Rowe said the team had a wealth of up-and-comers and exciting prospects.
“We have a lot of talent in the team, and we are hoping to see a few medals come back to Wairoa.”