Who knew that James Hargest College in Invercargill, my old high school would be dominant at sport? London 2012 gold medalist Nathan Cohen went there and there are five other competitors at the London 2012 Olympics with James Hargest College connections. These are mainly rowers with Jade and Storm Uru and Louise Ayling joined by track cyclist Eddie Dawkins and swimmer Natalie Wiegersma. It is great to see times have changed!
When I was at school in the 1990s, we had a dominant concert band, but that was about it, despite being a large co-ed school. It in many ways made it easier to do well at sports since heaps of the top level athletes at the time went to Southland Boys High School like Mils Muliaina, Corey Flynn, Clarke Dermody, Aaron Burgess, Stephen Downey and Jason Rutledge. Hargest generally didn't excel at rugby, which was left to single sex schools. I think there has only been one or two All Blacks from James Hargest which is crazy given it now has 2000 students.
The only sports we were ok at were more the money sports like tennis, rowing, equestrian and skiing if I recall, but these had a relatively low profile and significance as part of the school curriculum. This made it easy for me to get the Senior Boys Tennis Title and become the Vice Captain of the First XI football team.
In 1992, the James Hargest High School first XV rugby team were a laughing stock when Jeff Wilson scored 66 points in helping Cargill beat Hargest 106-6. Back then tries were only worth four points. Hargest were also on the receiving end of a massive 135-0 loss to Otago Boys High School earlier this year (2012).
What has changed?
James Hargest College introduced a High Performance Sports Unit nine years ago and this helped the school improve. These results have taken a while to come to fruition internationally. It must also be noted that according to Wikipedia, despite being a massive school with nearly 2000 students between the junior and senior campus,
The majority of students are New Zealand European, but there are some Māori and Asians
For interest sake there are some top New Zealanders to come from James Hargest High School, although I am not a notable alumni yet, Jon Gadsby and Suzanne Prentice are.
Steven Broad - New Zealand Idol contestant
Nathan Cohen - Olympic rower
Jon Gadsby - comedian
Kali Kopae - New Zealand Idol contestant
Suzanne Prentice - country singer
Bonnie Soper - actress on Shortland Street
Jade Uru New Zealand rowing representative at 2010 World Championships
Storm Uru - Olympic rower
Christine French - first woman to be appointed High Court judge in the South Island
Eddie Dawkins- Gold Medal at 2010 Cycling World Cup, Silver at 2011 Cycling World Cup[
Here is a great video from Southland following the Gold medal for Nathan Cohen.