The Roar
The Roar


Emerging Kiwi talent to shine at the Commonwealth Games

Roar Guru
28th February, 2018

In 2006 the Halberg Trust instigated an emerging talent award to acknowledge outstanding young Kiwi sportspeople.

Anybody 20 years old or younger is eligible to win the prize, and a number of impressive winners have been anointed over the years, including half a dozen names that will feature at the Commonwealth Games

2017: Ellesse Andrews (cycling)
Ellesse won the individual pursuit and set a world record at the UCI Junior Track World Championships in Italy last August, breaking the two kilometres world record by four seconds. It rounded off a successful week of racing for Andrews, who, along with teammates Nicole Shields, Katie Smith and Emily Sharman, also won silver for New Zealand in the four kilometres team pursuit. Ellesse has subsequently been named in the Commonwealth Games team for April’s event in Australia.

The other finalists were Nico Porteous (free ski), Matthew MacDonald (rowing) and Josh Armit (yachting)

2016: Campbell Stewart (cycling)
A four-time world junior track cycling champion, Stewart in 2015 became a double world champion after a courageous victory in the omnium at the UCI Junior Track Cycling World Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan. He won the world title in the scratch race on the opening day and recovered from a crash in the final points race to claim his second rainbow jersey in the gruelling six-discipline omnium.

Campbell joined Sarah Ulmer (1994 in Quito) and the then team pursuit world champion Regan Gough (2014 in Korea) as double rainbow jersey winners at the Junior Track Cycling World Championships, one behind the three gold medals won by sprinter Sam Webster in Moscow in 2009.

The other finalists were Dylan Schmidt (trampoline sports), Finn Bilous (skiing), Maynard Peel (BMX).

2015: Eliza McCartney (athletics)
McCartney won a pole vault bronze medal at the IAAF World Junior Championships and broke a world junior record. At the 2016 Olympics, she matched her feat of a bronze medal, making her the youngest medalist for New Zealand at the last Olympics.

The others finalists were Campbell Stewart (cycling), Dylan Schmidt (trampoline sports) and Tai Wynyard (basketball).


2014: Regan Gough (cycling)
Regan became a double world junior champion in 2014 in the points race and Madison at the UCI Junior Track World Championships in South Korea. Gough has since kicked on to a fourth-place finish in the team pursuit at the 2016 Olympics Games and has become an accomplished road cyclist.

The other finalists were Eliza McCartney (athletics), Sam Gaze (cycling) and Zoe McBride (rowing).

2013: Gabrielle Fa’amausili (swimming)
At just 14 years old Fa’amausili won a gold medal at the World Junior Swimming Championships in the 50 metres backstroke as well as setting a championship record. Fa’amausili also set the New Zealand Open record in the 50 metres backstroke and broke six New Zealand age group records.

She has gone on to a swimming scholarship at the University of Georgia in the US and was named to compete in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, but she has since withdrawn due to injury.

The other finalists were Ella Williams (surfing), Jake Lewis (motorsport) and Tom Murray (rowing).

2012: Lydia Ko (golf)
Korean-born Ko is the youngest player to become the number one-ranked professional golfer in the world. On the second of February 2015, she was 17 years, nine months and nine days of age when she became the world’s best player.

Ko announced her arrival three years earlier when she became the youngest person ever to win a professional golf tour event by winning the Women’s NSW Open on the ALPG Tour. Later in the year, Ko became the youngest ever winner of an LPGA Tour event, winning the Canadian Open.

The other finalists were Andrew McKenzie (yachting), Anton Cooper (mountain biking) and Dylan Kennett (track cycling).


2011: Jacko Gill (athletics)
In 2010 Jacko Gill won gold in the shot put at the World Junior Championships at the age of 15 years and 213 days old, which made him the youngest ever male gold medalist at the World Junior Championships, surpassing Usain Bolt, who was 15 years and 332 days old when he won the 200 metres in 2002. In 2011 he defended his title and cleaned up the New Zealand secondary schools competition.

Gill has remained in shotput and is ranked in the top ten in the world.

The other finalists were Byron Wells (snow sports), Sam Meech (yachting) and Shaun Johnson (rugby league).

2010: Gareth Kean (swimming)
Swimmer Gareth Kean out of Wellington College burst on to the world stage by winning a silver medal in the backstroke at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. A multiple national champion, Kean went on to compete at the 2012 London Olympics but later quit swimming citing a lack of passion.

The other finalists were Jacko Gill (athletics), Julia Edward (rowing) and Tyler Bleyendaal (rugby).

2009: Sam Webster (cycling)
Sam Webster from Auckland was the 2009 sprint, keirin and team sprint world champion at the Junior World Cycling Championships. He was also a New Zealand national track cycling champion. Webster kicked on to win gold medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in the individual sprint and the team sprint.

The other finalists were Aaron Cruden (rugby), Robbie Manson (rowing) and Sam Meech (sailing).

2008: Jossi Wells (skiing)
The youngest skier to ever compete at the Winter X Games, Wells achieved fine results on the Winter Dew Tour, winning two silver medals and two bronze medals in slopestyle events. Wells was the first Kiwi to compete on this tour.


In 2010 at the age of 19 Wells was crowned the AFP overall world champion, earning him the status of best freeskier in the world. He has since completed the Winter Olympics.

The other finalists were Chris Rahardja (karate), Graham Oberlin-Brown (rowing) and Paige Hareb (surfing).

2007: Emma Twigg (rowing)
Emma Twigg won the world under-23 single sculls rowing championship in 2007 and went one better when she qualified for the senior final to book a berth at the 2008 Olympics. Twigg has since been to three Olympic Games and has won a gold medal in the single sculls at the 2014 world championships.

The other finalists were Brendon Hartley (motor racing), Danny Lee (golf) and Edward Dawkins (cycling).

2006: Rebecca Spence (duathlon)
Aucklander Rebecca Spence was the first winner of the emerging talent award after her outstanding win in the junior elite women’s Duathlon World Championships in Canada. Spence completed a five-kilometre run, 20-kilometre bike ride and a 2.5-kilometres run in just over an hour to become a world champion for the first and only time.

After seven years in retirement, Spence burst back onto the triathlon scene in 2015 and has qualified for the Commonwealth Games in April.

Other finalists in the inaugural year were Graham Oberlin-Brown (rowing), Katherine Prumm (motorcycling) and Nathan Cohen (rowing).