Athletics: Sprinter Eddie Osei-Nketia embraces lockdown training on farm with Olympic royalty

New Zealand's fastest man is getting creative in his Commonwealth Games training regime, while stuck in at COVID-19 Alert Level 3 in Cambridge.

Sprint superstar Eddie Osei-Nketia, 20, has moved from Christchurch to Waikato to be closer to his coaches and focus on athletics, after deciding against a switch to Super Rugby. 

Osei-Nketia is living with former Olympic rowers Rob and Sonia Waddell on their agistment farm in Cambridge, and does his sledding, hill and resistance training in a whole new environment.

"I'm not used to cows and sheep and horses around me," he says. "This is a whole scene-change for me to be honest!"

Stuck in lockdown, the 100m and 200m star's only training buddy is 13-year-old champion sprinter Maddie Waddell, whose 100m PB is just 2.2s behind his.

"It's a win-win situation and Eddie's loving the environment, being around Rob and Sonia, who are pretty amazing athletes in their own right," says Tokoroa-based coach Gary Henley-Smith.  

Henley-Smith sends daily programmes to stand-in mum, former NZ world junior 400m hurdles representative Sonia Waddell, who also videos his sessions. 

Strength and conditioning coach Angus Ross, who had just one training session with Osei-Nketia before lockdown, has big plans to get his 100m personal best below 10.12s.   

"We'll track down the holes in his performance, where he's close to 10-flat and probably his top speed would be close to that space, but acceleration, we could work on that a bit and we can measure horizontal power, while he's here."

Henley-Smith says his protege is very competitive.

"What makes him extra special is that when he runs against people that are faster than him, he lifts to that occasion and not many athletes can actually do that."

Nine months out from the world championships and Birmingham Commonwealth Games, the speedster has put a potential switch to rugby on hold.

"I'm ready to learn, and I'm determined and I'm ready to get things done," he says. "Honestly, I just want to run under 10 seconds - that would be the ultimate dream."

If he does, he'll slash the NZ record set in 1994 by father Gus Nketia, who now lives in Australia, and is keen to get his son across the Tasman to train and compete.

"Eddie's a guy that rips the track up, he's a big powerful muscular guy," says Ross. "I'll be honest, I'd love to have him stay.

"I feel there's a lot we can work on and that opportunity will only come with time."

"His first 30 metres, he's probably giving up a couple of metres to those top guys, so that's an area... that’d put him under 10 seconds, if he can tidy that up."

While he's determined to represent New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games, Osei-Nketia also misses his family.

"Hopefully, during the summer I can go back to Australia and get some training done with my dad, and show out there."

If he does, Osei-Nketia will take uniquely Kiwi lockdown memories with him, as he seeks an 'A' qualifying performance for Birmingham.