Young athletes from New Zealand who are among sport’s top rising stars
Sport is the one area in which New Zealand truly excels. From rugby to track and field and other sports, the nation has produced a number of notable athletes. The athletic prodigies who will go on to achieve tremendous career heights can be difficult to anticipate, though.
Here are some of the young Kiwi athletes that, in our opinion, will be remembered in ten years. These athletes are among the best in their sport today and have the potential to become legends.
These athletes, who are all under the age of 21 and are in the prime of their careers, appear destined to rule the sporting world in the years to come, and we look forward to watching them as they accumulate victories and successes.
Marko Stamenic – Football
Marko Stamenic, who was playing for Western Suburbs in the Central League just two years ago, made history this year when he represented Danish side FC Copenhagen as the first New Zealander to participate in the men’s Champions League group stage. In the group stage, the midfielder from Wellington hit the pitch and played the entire 90 minutes against Manchester City, the team he grew up rooting for.
As key player for the Danish side, he has been helping the team in its campaign for the Danish Superliga title, and according to the top legal sportsbooks in Ontario, FC Copenhagen are among the favorites to lift the trophy at the end of the season.
Stamenic, who is 20 years old, will be a crucial cog in the All Whites’ midfield for many years to come. He made a contribution off the bench in the World Cup playoff game against Costa Rica and started against Australia at Eden Park in September 2022.
Liam Lawson – Motorsport
Only 9 New Zealanders have competed in Formula One, and Liam Lawson is well on his way to joining that exclusive group. After two seasons in Formula Two, the gifted driver will compete in Japan’s top-tier Super Formula this year.
Lawson will hope that this advances his goal of driving in Formula One, given Super Formula has a tradition of grooming future F1 drivers. In the Formula Two championship last year, he showed off his talent by taking third place and winning four races. His future appears to be very promising.
Erika Fairweather – Swimming
The youthful swimmer from Dunedin, age 18, is on the rise. Fairweather came in fourth in the women’s 400 m freestyle and 200 m freestyle at the Commonwealth Games, just missing out on medals, but the experience will only make her stronger.
She made a name for herself at the Tokyo Olympics by breaking Lauren Boyle’s national record in the 400-meter freestyle. She completed the event in 4min 02.28 seconds, and surged into the final field of competitors, where she finished eighth.
“I never believed I’d be in the Olympic final, let alone in the lane I’ll be in,” Fairweather joked after completing the event. At the 2024 Summer Olympics, in Paris, she will be a name to keep an eye on in the pool.
Sylvia Brunt – Rugby
Midfielder Sylvia Brunt, who just turned 19, might be a pillar of the successful Black Ferns’ world champion team for many years to come. She made her team debut in the Pacific Four Series in Waitakere against Canada last year.
The youngest of the 32 players chosen for the World Cup squad, Brunt demonstrated her potential against Wales in the team’s second pool game, by excelling with two tries.
“She’s going to have a massive future as a Black Fern,” assistant coach Wesley Clarke said after the match. “She’s very intelligent. She picks things up really quickly when you coach her, but on top of that, she’s also very natural.”
George Bell – Rugby
After one Super Rugby match, you may assume you have a promising future when people start referring to you as a potential All Black. Bell, the captain and hooker for the New Zealand under-20s, received plaudits of that caliber last year, but he is handling it well.
Following his move from Otago to the north a few years back, the Crusaders decided they liked what they saw and signed him to a three-year contract. At the age of 20, he is still honing his skills in the front row but is expected to one day overtake Codie Taylor as the Crusaders’ top rake.
Bell demonstrated his leadership abilities last year by leading the NZ under-20s to the Oceania championship in July.