Howick College student heads to Youth Olympics

Howick College’s Hinemoa Watene (centre) has been selected for the New Zealand U18 Sevens team Going to the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina later this year. Photo supplied.

Hinemoa Watene’s pre-game ritual is listening to rapper 50 Cent.

She doesn’t know why, but it’s what her dad always put on to hype her up before she headed out onto the rugby field.

It’s a ritual she will be taking with her to Argentina to play in the New Zealand U18 Sevens team in the Youth Olympic Games in October.

The Howick College student says being selected to represent New Zealand at the Youth Olympics is a dream come true.

The first thing she did when she found out was call her mum.

“At first she didn’t believe me and actually hung up on me. Then she called straight back and said ‘are you being serious?’ and started crying,” Watene says.

She says her parents and her brother are her biggest cheerleaders and will join her in Argentina.

“They have always been firm believers in my ability even when I doubted myself,” she says.

The Howick College player says she has always felt at home on the rugby field and started playing sevens when she was in year nine.

“My school sports coordinator said she wanted to enter a sevens team in the Condors tournament, and I had always been interested in rugby so I was all for it. I guess I’ve just never looked back,” says the rising star.

Watene went on to play in the women’s Auckland Storm (15s), Auckland Women’s sevens,  Auckland U18s sevens, Auckland U18s 15s and most recently played in the New Zealand U18s Sydney sevens qualifier.

She currently plays for the competition-leading College Rifles Thunderbirds in Auckland club rugby.

She says she has had her sights set on the Youth Olympics for quite some time.

“After missing out on the first round at the World Schools Condors sevens I didn’t want that to be the end. I kept on working hard and decided that I was going to get there.”

So she scribbled her goal down on a piece of paper which she pinned to her notice board.

Every morning she looks at that piece of paper as a reminder to stay focussed and work hard, she says.

“All that hard work has finally paid off.”

Watene says her goal now is to be fitter, stronger and better than what she is before heading to the Youth Olympics.