Athletics prodigy off to Japan

A Queenstown Primary School athlete who’s achieved some head-turning results this past season will soon be trying to qualify for the Japanese national champs.

At the South Island Colgate Games in Dunedin, Aya Duffy, who’s 11, won her age-group finals in all five events she entered — the 100 metres, 200m, 400m, long jump and shot put.

And, according to her dad Blair, in the 100m, 200m and long jump she out-performed the best 11-year-old girls at the North Island Colgate

Remarkably, Aya’s twin sister Eva finished fourth in both the 100m and 200m finals.

Aya, who at 163cm is 18cm taller than Eva, started doing athletics with the local athletics club four years ago.

She says the 400m and long jump are her favourite events.

And what she likes about the sport is ‘‘how everyone supports each other’’.

She’s occasionally coached by Queenstown-raised sprinter Hayato Yoneto when he’s in town, and has been generously sponsored by Shotover Jet.

Late this month, the twins fly out to Japan with their Japanese mum Momoyo for about seven weeks of schooling there.

While there, Aya will also compete in provincial champs for the Miyazaki prefecture.

If she wins there, she’d qualify for the Japanese national champs in September which she’d fly back for.

It’s still early days, but she’s already setting her sights on the Commonwealth Games or even Olympics.

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