Lake Illawarra's Ryan Keen preparing for Trans Tasman Challenge

Auckland bound: Lake Illawarra's Ryan Keen will head to New Zealand for the Trans Tasman Challenge.

Auckland bound: Lake Illawarra's Ryan Keen will head to New Zealand for the Trans Tasman Challenge.

Ryan Keen is preparing to head to Auckland next month after being selected in the NSW Little Athletics Trans Tasman team for the second straight year.

Ryan’s father Rod said he was most excited about reconnecting with athletes met at last year’s championships and the opportunity to meet new friends when he is billeted to a New Zealand family. While many 12-year-old boys may be apprehensive about the prospect of living with a group of strangers in a foreign country, Ryan is looking forward to the opportunity

“Ryan’s very excited for the tour,” He said. “They spend a day with an Auckland family over there and he’s really looking forward to making friendships with Kiwi kids and looking forward to reengaging with kids he met last year. 

“He’s got quite a few friends with the kids from NSW in the team as well. He’s also looking forward to spending time with those guys.”

The Lake Illawarra little athlete will compete in the discus, shot put and 100m sprint at two carnivals on the 13-day tour.

The first carnival will pit Ryan against the best athletes New Zealand’s North Island has to offer at the Colgate Games. The second will see the NSW team compete against Athletics Auckland in a team’s event.

Ryan was thankful for the work his coaches Kevin McGarry and Ron Thompson had put in to help him make the team.

McGarry said Keen was deserving of the selection after working hard at training to continually improve his throwing.

“He’s trained really well,” McGarry said. “He was selected in the Trans Tasman team last year and has trained and competed so well. Over last two to three years he’s gone on in leaps and bounds.”

While athletics is the focus of the tour, the team will have the opportunity to explore New Zealand’s cultural and physical attractions, with trips to Rotorua and Waihi planned.

“They go down to Rotorua,” Rod said. “He’s quite excited to look at the hot springs. They do quite a bit of sightseeing, which is good.”