by Helen Martin
When 10-year-old Georgina Collinge-Coker broke Helensville Athletic Club records and won three medals at the 2020 Colgate Games in Taranaki – bronze in the high jump, silver in the 200m race and gold in the 400m (to win the gold medal she competed against 47 other athletes in the heats and 7 in the final) - it was evident to everyone following her prowess just how talented an athlete she is.
Georgina comes from a very active family, with a brother, Ben (8), parents and grandparents all keen on their chosen sports, which include soccer, running, athletics, cycling, tennis, netball and touch. “Mum and I train together,” Georgina says. “We run around the streets and Rautawhiri Park and at my Nana’s house we went for a run around Mangawhai when it was really hot.”
As well as being a keen athlete, Georgina is a surf lifesaving nipper at Muriwai Surf Lifesaving Club. She plays touch for her school, Helensville Primary, swims in the Senior Squad at Parakai and steers for an intermediate crew in the Tu Tangi Ora Waka Ama Club.“I like them all,” she says, “but I like athletics, waka and surf life saving the best.” When she talks about school, where she’s now in Year 7, it’s clear that while Georgina is enjoying her time as a student, she’s most interested in the sporting opportunities, describing PE, athletics and cross country as her favourite activities. Georgina’s next big challenge will be the Auckland Champs at Mount Smart in February.
Despite her outstanding abilities Georgina is modest about her achievements.” I kind of want to be in the Olympics but I’m not really sure. I just like everything about athletics apart from shotput.” This year in school athletics she came first in the 75m and was proud of coming first in the 100ms “because I normally come second.” She also won discus and long jump, came second in high jump and third in shotput. “I’m not that good at shotput, but I still like to do it,” she says. “My goals are just to try and make lots of the finals and at least get a place. Or get a club record and a personal best. They time us in the heats and put up the times on a board so you can see what you did, but I don’t really remember my times.”
Her mother Nicola, who is Helensville Athletics Club Secretary, concurs. “Georgina has a natural sporting ability and it’s good for her not to specialise yet. When we walked to daycare when she was little she would always run up the hill. She really enjoys participating whether she wins or not. She likes to challenge herself and she’s always been really happy not to get a place because she knows she’s done her best.” Being parents of a talented child does involve careful management – when to nudge, when to step back. “She has days off, but we do encourage her to train because she wants to do well, and it doesn’t come from waving a magic wand.”
Having moved to Helensville in 2012, the family feel fortunate there are so many sports clubs for all children to participate in – rugby tennis athletics netball swimming dance. “We all support each other,” says Nicola.