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Two Ashburton-born figures were part of the theme of sporting excellence at an investiture ceremony held in Christchurch on Monday.
Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy held a short investiture ceremony where Roly Crichton was recognised for his efforts guiding the career of top Paralympian Sophie Pascoe, while top cyclist turned coach Hayden Roulston was also acknowledged.
The ceremonies normally take place at Government House in Auckland or Wellington, and one a year in the South Island, however, due to Covid-19 a series of smaller ceremonies are being held to have the honours conferred.
Crichton started coaching with the Ashburton Swim Team, but is most well known for coaching Pascoe – New Zealand’s most successful paralympian – and in the 2019 New Year Honours he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Paralympic sport.
He had also been a successful athlete in his own right.
At the 1984 Summer Paralympics, Crichton won a gold medal in the 50m freestyle as well as two silver medals and a bronze.
Then at the 1988 Summer Paralympics, he won a silver and bronze medal.
Roulston is one of New Zealand’s most successful cyclists.
He won silver and bronze at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
He also won two bronze medals at the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002, and then a silver in the road race at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games.
Roulston has also competed in the Tour de France, won the Tour of Southland four times, and the New Zealand road race National Championship four times as well as several track titles at the New Zealand and Oceania track championships.
In 2015 Roulston announced his retirement from road racing and began coaching.
Roulston was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2009.
At the ceremony on Monday, former All Black coach Sir Steve Hansen was also honoured for his efforts in coaching our international team.
Hansen was knighted in the 2020 New year’s honours.
By Jonathan Leask © The Ashburton Guardian - 6 August 2020
Taonga Mbambo is making good strides with his studies and running and has just returned to start his second year at university in the USA.
The former Ashburton College student, a talented middle and long distance runner, won an athletics and academic scholarship to La Salle University in Philadelphia last year.
His first year of studies was cut short by the coronavirus outbreak and he returned home in March to complete them online.
Taonga’s academic performance and running prowess have both been noted by college officials and he has returned to America with a spring in his stride.
“I feel good about going back and getting into my studies and running.”
He said he was young, fit and healthy and not unduly bothered by the Covid-19 situation.
His sophomore (second year) would feature a mix of online and in-person lectures, but there would be no competitive running for a few more months.
“Sporting competitions will be reassessed in September, so I’ll have to see what happens then.”
Taonga, 19, is studying for a four-year business management degree and is both a track and cross country runner.
Since returning home in March he has been staying fit and pounding the streets of Ashburton to build up his distance work.
“I’ve been running around 70 miles (112km) a week and I’m feeling good.”
Taonga said he suffered a stress fracture last October, but had recovered well after some good treatment and was back running within six weeks.
Part-time work in Ashburton over the last few weeks has helped fund some new running footwear, and half a dozen pairs were crammed into his suitcase ahead of his departure earlier this week.
© The Ashburton Courier - 6 August 2020
Seven days is a long time in rugby, and this week the Mid Canterbury Combined XV know it better than most.
A week after getting their first win for the season, courtesy of a last-minute penalty, the side took on the might of St Thomas’ on Saturday and they came off second best.
But while they will reflect on a 3-70 scoreline and ponder where it might have all gone wrong, they’ll also take solace in the fact that many aspects of their game were as good as they have been all season.
In fact, the first 17 minutes of the match saw some of the best defensive work the side has produced.
Despite STAC throwing everything at them, the side stood tall and handled the one-off runners well, and even sent some shivers down the spines of the collective STAC crowd when Charlie Brown’s boot put the visitors in front with a penalty.
That was to be it though, as STAC warmed into their work.
Combined put the pressure on too though.
And on a couple of occasions, went close.
At half-time, the hosts were in control of the match at 20-3, but the young Combined side weren’t without their chance if they could produce a solid second 40 minutes.
Instead, it was unfortunately the opposite.
After defending strongly in the opening half, Combined began to miss tackles and were all of a sudden outflanked as STAC scored 50 unanswered points to win the match easily.
The side also lost Christian Thompson for the remainder of the season through a head knock, but plans are already in place for the talented young player to join the management part of the team.
Ghost Touli was named player of the match for his outstanding work on defence throughout the game, while George Penjueli, who made his run-on debut, was impressive, and is in the right space to end the 2020 season on a high note.
This weekend the side heads down the road to Timaru to take on Timaru Boys High School, where the focus is very much on putting a big performance together on the paddock.
Exemption was sought to have the game shifted away from the day after the Ashburton College School Ball which will be held on Friday night, but there was no willingness to do so from the opposition unfortunately.
By Matt Markham © The Ashburton Guardian - 5 August 2020