26 May 2019

Teenage sprint star commits to New Zealand

10:42 pm on 26 May 2019

Athletics New Zealand has confirmed teenage sprint sensation Edward Osei-Nketia will run for this country.

A young man in demand. Teenage sprint star Edward Osei-Nketia.

A young man in demand. Teenage sprint star Edward Osei-Nketia. Photo: © Photosport Ltd 2019 / Alisha Lovrich

When Osei-Nketia won the senior men's 100m at the Australian National championships last month, it sparked a lot of interest here and Australia.

Athletics Australia made a last-ditch bid to convince the New Zealand-born star to wear the green and gold at international level.

There was also plenty of interest from rugby codes in the 17-year-old.

Osei-Nketia spent eight years in Canberra before moving back to Wellington last year to finish his schooling.

Athletics New Zealand have been keen to lock in Osei-Nketia for some time and after ongoing discussions, an agreement was reached this weekend.

Athletics New Zealand high performance director Scott Goodman said Osei-Nketia had accepted his position in the New Zealand team for the Oceania Championships, being held at the end of June.

"He's signed our team agreement, that means he's committed to compete for us, the allegiance thing formally starts once he's competed for us.

"We've worked with him and we've worked with New Zealand Rugby and High Performance Sport NZ to support him over the next 12 months or so and the family are pretty happy with what we've put in place. We're looking forward to having him on the team in June and hopefully at the World Champs in Doha."

Goodman said small improvements could take Osei-Nketia a long way.

"If he improves just a little bit and he can probably do that with just improving his starts, he's going to be capable of making finals at major championships.

"For our sport to have someone of that level it gives the sport a lot of exposure. And he's such a good guy with it, a very appreciative and no frills. He doesn't have a big ego or anything like that."

Osei-Nketia has expressed a desire to one day play rugby for New Zealand and Goodman said they worked with New Zealand Rugby in the interests of everyone.

"Their position is to let him work with us, and see how fast he can really get. If he really gets to the highest level, if he starts to get down to sub 10 seconds I think they'll understand that he'll want to do athletics for a while just to see what he can make out of. That puts him in the top seven or eight in the world.

"So for [New Zealand Rugby] the faster he is the better, if he does transfer across to Sevens or the 15-aside game. That's the position they've taken and they've worked with us."

He said they were realistic that the 17-year-old might want to switch codes later on.

"At that level you're not going to make the money that he would be able to make if he was going to go down the rugby path. The other code I think that would be interesting would be grid-iron, American football."

Goodman said they had conditionally selected him for the World Champs in Doha later this year.

If Osei-Nketia wins either the 100 or 200m at the Oceania Athletics Championships in June, he will get automatic entry into the Champs in Doha.