Fox, Thorpe, Anacan, Williamson confirmed for Olympics

Former Macleans College student Andrea Anacan is set to become the first New Zealander to ever compete in karate at the Olympic Games.

Professional Kiwi golfer Beachlands’ Ryan Fox will play in his second Olympics at Tokyo 2020.

He will become a two-time-Olympian, receiving selection into the New Zealand Olympic Team again after his first campaign at Rio 2016.

Meanwhile, one of four stars of New Zealand’s elite Triathlon team – from Howick – has been selected for the New Zealand Team to compete at the Tokyo Olympics.

Ainsley Thorpe, who attended Cockle Bay School, Somerville Intermediate and Howick College, will compete in the Women’s Individual Triathlon & Mixed Team Relay. Her brother, Trent Thorpe, has been selected as a travelling reserve

And former Macleans College student Andrea Anacan (Mansfield House 2005 – 2008) is set to become the first New Zealander to ever compete in karate at the Olympic Games.

The 30-year-old was officially selected to the New Zealand Team for Tokyo 2020 at a recent function.

Tokyo will be Dan Williamson‘s first Olympics where he will compete in the men’s rowing eight. Williamson, who grew up in Beachlands, began his rowing career rowing for Counties-Manukau Rowing Club and Howick College in 2014. After a successful season in his novice year, Williamson moved to King’s College.

Fox is relishing the opportunity of flying the New Zealand flag at the Olympic Games again.

Fox was looking to secure his European Tour card in 2016 and only had only played in one major championship in the lead up to Rio. Five years on, Fox has played on the European Tour every year since and has played in 10 major championships. In 2019 he won his first European Tour event, at the World Super 6 Perth, to become the the first New Zealander to win on the European Tour in 10 years.

Fox says he’s looking forward to representing New Zealand again and feels more equipped to compete with the best in the world.

“I grew up in a family where representing New Zealand was the highest honour. Golf doesn’t necessarily give you that many chances. I obviously represent New Zealand week in, week out on the European Tour, but I feel like I’m playing more for myself,” said Fox.

“At the Olympics you are completely representing New Zealand. It’s a great honour and I’ve only done it a couple of times in my career. Rio 2016, the World Cup of Golf, and the Eisenhower Trophy are probably the only opportunities I felt like I was representing New Zealand.

“It’s something I cherish doing and it’s cool to be able to do that again this year.”

The men’s event gets underway from July 29 to August 1, with the women playing from August 4 to 7. Both events are being played at Kasumigaseki Country Club over four rounds of individual stroke play.

Thorpe, now based in Cambridge, is coming into the Games on top form, with a recent second place in the U23 category at the World Triathlon Oceania’s in Port Douglas this June and fourth overall. The Oceania 2020 Sprint Champion and World Cup circuit podium winner has her eyes set on Tokyo.

“To all the people who have supported me throughout all my years of training and racing this Olympic selection is my way of paying you back, thank you!” said Thorpe.

“I’m looking forward to what is going to be a very unique experience and can’t wait to put on the New Zealand uniform.”

Anacan says she’s honoured to represent New Zealand and karate.

It means the world to me to be part of this New Zealand Team,” said Anacan.

“I didn’t ever dream of going to the Olympics when I started this sport. It’s been a bit of a surprise to be honest. There’s been a lot of hard work, I can’t quantify the hours that me and my sensei have put in, we never could have imagined this but I couldn’t be more excited.”

Anacan was born in the Philippines and began the sport at age four due to its practical applications.

She moved to New Zealand with her family aged 12, where she linked up with sensei Johnny Ling.

It was on Ling’s advice that Anacan gave up competing in the contact version of karate, kumite, and chose to focus on the non-contact version of kata instead. Kata is a performance discipline where athletes perform a series of offensive and defensive moves popularly known as forms.

“Sensei told me when I was 14, ‘if you don’t grow any taller in a year, you’ll stop competing in kumite and do kata’. Because he told me that I can’t reach my opponents when I’m fighting and they’re so much taller than me and with a longer reach.

“I didn’t grow any taller, I’m still 4ft11 (150cm) but it’s actually really beneficial for kata because my centre of gravity is lower.”

Anacan finished seventh at the 2018 Karate World Championships and has been working towards the New Zealand Olympic team since.

Karate New Zealand President Grant Holland says Anacan is a fantastic ambassador for their sport.

“Andrea is a hard worker, a wonderful person and we are grateful she is part of Karate New Zealand,” said Holland.

“As a measure of how outstanding this selection is, in excess of 190 countries and more than 10 million people around the world compete in karate so to make it to the Olympic Games is extremely difficult.”

The Olympic kata competition begins on August 5. The event in will be held in Nippon Budokan, an indoor venue located in Tokyo’s Kitanomaru Park which hosted judo events at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Williamson is the youngest member of the New Zealand elite rowing programme but has plenty of experience. He was first selected in the junior men’s four in 2017 and U23 four in 2018.

At the end of his 2018 U23 campaign, Williamson headed to the US to study at Yale University (astronomy and astrophysics).

Due to Covid-19, he returned to New Zealand in 2020. He was taken straight into the newly formed New Zealand elite development team, allowing him to train at Lake Karapiro with the New Zealand elite team.