28 Feb Talented trio speeds to skating glory

Nayland College students Luke Denton, Zena Denton and Holly Ward have been taking the national speed skating scene by storm. The talented trio came home with a swag of medals after competing at the New Zealand National Speed Skating Championships in Timaru in January.

Holly Ward (Year 9) earned a silver and a bronze medal for the relays and gained 5th and 6th placings overall in the junior grade. Zena Denton (Year 10) gained a bronze relay medal and was placed in the top 10 for the 5km open race.

Zena’s twin brother Luke Denton (Year 10) also performed extremely well. He received two silver relay medals and three bronze medals in the 800m and 3km events. He was placed 9th in the 10km open race and gained several other 4th placings. One of these was for the half marathon where he narrowly missed out on a bronze medal – by less than a length of wheel!

For those of us who don’t know much about this growing sport, Luke provides some clarification. “There are three types of tracks,” he explained. “There’s the indoor which is 100m stadium, there’s the bank track which is a 200m track with banked corners and then there’s road which can be anything outdoor on concrete.”

The passionate athletes all cite the adrenalin thrill as part of what draws them to the sport. “It makes you feel fearless, like invincible I guess,” Zena said.

Holly and Zena also highlighted the social side of speed skating and say it’s allowed them to meet lots of people and make new friends, including each other. Holly describes how Zena introduced her to the sport about five years ago.

“I had my birthday party at the skating rink (…) and there was this girl going around and she was real fast and she had these really cool skates,” Holly said. “Then I asked her Dad and the next week I went along [to the club] and it all just went from there and I found out that this is my sport.”

Luke and Zena were introduced to skating in quite a different way. Their dad used to skate with the Nelson Speed Skating Club but the club later stopped. According to Zena, when he heard it had restarted, he was keen for her and Luke to get involved.

The nationals were by no means the first championship the skaters had entered, as they all competed as part of the New Zealand national team at the Oceania Championships in Melbourne last year. Holly plans to do so again when they are held in Timaru over Easter, and though Luke and Zena are sitting this one out for this year, they will still train with the team to support Holly and the others.

The training is rigorous with up to six two-hour training sessions a week prior to a competition.  The trio’s plans include future Oceania champs, as well as the possibility of making it to the World Games. These events require a marathon effort to get to, not just on the part of the skaters, but from their parents and supporters too.

Look out for Holly, Luke and Zena as their skating careers climb to even further heights!

By Sera King