A multi-talented Warkworth sportsman is getting ready to conquer the world, winning a place on at least two national squads in two very different disciplines.
Jordon Thomas, 19, is an elite athlete in both wood chopping and hockey, as well as being a senior hockey coach locally. He’s part of the Under 21 National Men’s Wood Chopping team that will be competing at the renowned Royal Adelaide Show in September, and he is hoping to be named in the New Zealand Under 21 Men’s Hockey squad, which is travelling to Malaysia next year. He’s already playing regularly for the NZ Māori Men’s Hockey team.
Jordon says hockey is definitely his first love, a sport he grew up with from the age of three, watching his Dad, Mark, play. He worked his way through the age groups with North Harbour Hockey, playing in the Under 13, Under 15, and Under 18 teams and has made the national competitions for the last couple of years. If selected for the Under 21s, he’ll go straight into training for the Junior World Cup in Malaysia.
Jordon is also coach for the Warkworth men’s hockey team. The striker and mid-fielder says he does it to reciprocate and share the knowledge he’s been privileged to receive over the years.
“It’s cool seeing them all improve and see their success, watching them get better week by week,” says Jordon. “And all of them are a lot older, so it’s nice to have the respect from them.”
On top of all this, he is also working full-time as a builder’s apprentice and trying to fund his sporting travels.
In the coming months, Jordon will be focusing on his wood chopping, with the national Under 21 Championships in Tokoroa this month and the trans-Tasman trip in September to prepare for.
Jordon got into the NZ representative team at the beginning of the year, after starting wood chopping around five years ago as a member of the Puhoi Axemen’s Club. His favourite discipline is the underhand, where a chopper stands on a log and swings an axe between his legs, but he also competes in standing classes, where the timber is upright like a tree, and he’s getting into sawing.
“I enjoy the adrenalin. It’s something different,” he says.
His goal for Adelaide is to just make it through nine days of gruelling competition against some of the world and Australia’s best, but he’d be thrilled with a place or a win.
“It will be pretty tough on the body. Everything’s working; it starts in the legs and goes right up.”
Jordon says wood chopping can be hard to get into because of the equipment required and the support needed for competitions. He has 12 axes already, but needs special versions to compete in Adelaide, where teams will be cutting an Australian hardwood eucalypt known as woollybutt, and they don’t come cheap at around $800 a pop.
While many young people can’t wait to leave home and explore the world, Thomas remains locally based and is already giving back to the community that raised and supported him.
“I enjoy both my sports and I’m excited to see what the future brings,” he says. “I’m really grateful to the local businesses and community members who’ve supported me over the years.”
Anyone who would like to help Jordon get new axes for Adelaide can contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org