12 Jul 2017

Youth Commonwealth Games athletes learning from the best

4:54 pm on 12 July 2017

World heavyweight boxing champ Joseph Parker and champion shot putter Dame Valerie Adams have both played key roles in preparing New Zealand athletes for the Youth Commonwealth Games in Bahamas next week.

A 34-strong New Zealand team will leave tomorrow for the competition.

Some of the athletes meet each other for the first time today, in their fresh uniforms you could tell they were feeling a mix of excitement with nervousness.

One of them sixteen year-old Pelea Fruean started boxing at the age of 12 when her big cousin Joseph Parker started teaching her.

"He taught me the basics, he taught me about self belief and how to jab, i guess it's all about wanting to perform well, I know all boxers go through that stage of wanting to get gold but I guess we're all in it to win it."

Pelea Fruean cousin of New Zealand heavyweight boxing world champion Joseph Parker.

Pelea Fruean Photo: Photosport

Pelea wakes up at 6.30am every day and goes for a run then spars during lunch and then trains again after school.

The hard work has paid off, she packs a good punch. She said she can't wait to get into the ring.

"We never really know who our opponent is going to be but i am excited to see and fight the different styles.

"My favorite part about boxing is meeting new people and getting to experience the different cultures," Fruean said.

Another athlete to watch out for at the games is Connor Bell, a 16-year-old discuss thrower from Auckland.

"I first started throwing in year eight when i did a competition at intermediate school and got a good result, i've never looked back really.

"I would watch Youtube videos for hours and then spin in the lounge, i've worn out some patches of carpet, i would analyse discus legends and their technique," Bell said.

Discus thrower Connor Bell has had the benefit of coaching from champion shot putter Dame Valerie Adams.

Connor Bell. Photo: Photosport

Bell who throws about 64 metres on average has been training under Olympic gold medalist Valerie Adams

"At the start it felt like i was in the presence of a legend a living legend, i really enjoyed it, I've learnt a lot from her but the biggest thing is just trusting the process and the relationship with my coach."

Standing at 6 ft 2 and weighting 104 kilos Bell is a tad bigger than your average 16 year old.

His mum Jenette attributes his country up-bringing for that.

"He's a decent size lad but he doesn't eat that much surprisingly, i guess what he does eat is proper food we have home culled meat and free range eggs."

Conner and Leah will leave for the Bahamas tomorrow with 32 other athletes, who will take part in beach volleyball, swimming, boxing, cycling, throwing and athletics.

The games run from July 18th to the 23rd.

Some of the athletes heading to the Youth Commonwealth Games.

Some of New Zealand's Youth Commonwealth Games team. Photo: PHOTOSPORT