PAIGE Leishmann, Hugh Stewart and South West Rocks’ Finn Askew will all have something in common when they head to the Central Coast.
And it isn’t that they’re all the same age after their selection in the NSW Country side for next month’s Trans Tasman Tri Series and Interstate Championships on the Central Coast.
They will all essentially fly the flag for the Mid North Coast.
Askew races for Tacking Point Surf Club throughout the season despite being based at South West Rocks.
He said while it was exciting to be selected in the team with two other mates from the Mid North Coast, the team as a whole was “pretty tight-knit.”
“It means a lot to represent Country because it’s really good to go against bigger states and mix it with some of the other athletes you normally wouldn’t get the chance to.”
He was the first Hastings athlete since 2010 to be named in the original NSW Country development squad.
The event will help the teenager finetune his race plans for future competitions.
The 17-year-old was confident a hip injury suffered last weekend wouldn’t keep him out of the tournament that runs from January 2-8.
“It’s up there with interstate as one of the biggest events on the surf lifesaving calendar,” he said.
Leishmann and Stewart will compete in the youth division, while Askew will compete in the under-17 division.
“I think this experience is going to be really great to represent my regional area and compete against the top elite athletes from around Australia and see where I’m at,” Leishmann said.
“Coming from a regional club, it shows the other states that regional kids are good, you don’t always have to be from a city.”
The 17-year-old admits she is unsure what to expect because it will be the first time she has been selected in a representative team outside of interbranch level.
“It means a lot (to be selected) and is the highest representation that I’ve been in for a team so far,” she said.
“I want to give it my best, try and get some top six places and give it a red-hot go.”
Stewart was pleased the hard work he had put in over a period spanning more than 10 years in the sport had been rewarded.
“This will be a good stepping stone to see where I’m at and will influence me with whether I want to pursue it any further,” he said.
“This will give me a great idea of where I’m at.”
The Wauchope-Bonny Hills Surf Life Saving Club member said his selection could be attributed to strong coaching.
“For such a small country team we have great coaches here that want the best for us,” he said.
He is looking forward to the challenge of racing as a team, rather than as an individual.
“It’s the next level and the only other team I’ve been selected in previously is interbranch so it will be good to race with the team against other states rather than just individually.”