To be young is heaven

Don’t you get sick of the focus on the All Blacks as New Zealand’s seemingly only group of blokes who fly the New Zealand flag overseas? It defies the facts to think that they claim the headlines of the world outside of some of the remnants of the British Empire and even there they come somewhat down the list.

Australia lauds Rugby League, Australian Rules, Cricket and Tennis ahead of Rugby. Canada is crazy about Baseball, Ice Hockey and Basketball with Rugby somewhere behind. Britain is warmer about Rugby but only a country mile behind football while South Africa…… yes, well South Africa. They love Rugby and are pretty good at it!

This week we will be obsessed about the All Blacks playing the United States in Chicago. The field will be sold out no doubt due to the sponsorship of AIG who coincidentally are sponsors of the All Blacks. Conveniently forgotten will be the fact that the US is the only country to have won a gold medal at the Olympics for Rugby!

Meanwhile, who is really bringing the name and flag of New Zealand to the world stage? Not the All Blacks but a remarkable bunch of young New Zealanders who are succeeding in a range of sports that are genuinely world sports.

Lydia Ko amazes the golfing crowds at an unbelievably young age and seems unable to be shaken out of the No. 3 spot in the world of women’s golf. This is am amazing feat in a sport that is global and greatly loved by amateurs of all abilities. Not only that, she does all this with a modesty and charm that could serve as a model for many others among our sports communities.

Motor racing fans have followed the high-speed fortunes of Scott Dixon, the lad from South Auckland, who win races in the fanatical and frantic world of American motor sport. Again this young man whose ability to be articulate is matched by modesty. He continues the stream of young world motor racing champions including Chris Amon and the great Bruce McClaren.

Next we have the Adams family – Val Adams and younger brother Steven – who both throw things, Val the Shotput and Steven the Basketball. Val Adams (another South Auckland sporting champ!) has maintained her spot at the top of the world over many years and does so without the drama of injuries and what-not. In fact her recent surgery was simply fitted in to the end-of-season gap without a fuss. Meanwhile we have daily press coverage of a certain No. 10’s medical aches, pains and breakages.

Younger brother Steve Adams has literally burst onto the world of US basketball and after a year playing at the college level has seemingly become a frontline player in the NBA. Yet when he comes back to NZ he seems to be still connected to the local roots from which he started.

Of course sport is not all that we are good at. Think of music and the many young opera singers who are claiming successes in competitions. Some are going further, the three young Samoan lads from South who combine both formal study as opera singers with a lighter touch as the popular SOL3 MIO. And there are others young singers breaking onto the world’s opera stages – Marlena Ott Devoe, Elisha Hulton and Isabella Moore are just three Samoan singers to emerge.

And then there is Lorde – the phenomenon from the North Shore who in some ways defies the understanding of some age groups but who grips the tastes of so many young and seemingly all age groups in what is called “the industry”. She is truly taking New Zealand to the world.

Of course there is the issue that Australia will claim all of these as their own and if they can’t get away with it will try the description “Australasian” – it’s just too cute for words!

No doubt about it – we are being proudly taken to the world by young people, all stars in their own right and who collectively are arguably among the most widely known New Zealanders on the face of the planet!

I bet teachers had a hand in influencing all of them!

 

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