Athletics: Zoe Hobbs begins to focus on Paris Olympics after career-best year in 2023

In less than seven months, Zoe Hobbs hopes she'll be lining up in a 100-metre final in Paris.  

On Sunday though, it was about returning to the grassroots. The sprinter is an ambassador for the Colgate Games event she regularly attended as a kid.  

And it's competitions like that she feels laid the foundation for pushing towards Olympic glory this year.  

Whether it's signing their shirts or shoes, 26-year-old Hobbs still finds it hard to believe that kids want her autograph.

Zoe Hobbs.
Zoe Hobbs. Photo credit: Getty Images

They even come from across the ditch for New Zealand's fastest woman.  

"It's a funny feeling, but it's really cool to see all of the kids come up and say hi and take a photo," she told Newshub. "It's cute. I love it."  

Hobbs fell in love with sprinting at meets like this. Now as an ambassador she values how important they are for getting her to where she is now.  

"I really loved the jumps as well," Hobbs detailed. "[I did] long jump, did a bit of high jump back in the day as well.

"But I did have a bias for a love towards sprinting."   

Sunday was more about watching, than racing for Hobbs - that can wait for an Olympic final in less than seven months.  

But Hobbs herself admits Paris has entered her thinking to start what could be the biggest year of her career.  

"I think all eyes have been on Paris," she added. "The whole build-in that I have is leading and ramping into that.  

"It's quickly approaching, which is quite scary, but also really exciting."  

After her best year yet, Hobbs allowed herself time to look back on 2023. 

The Kiwi finished 10th at the world championships, and was beaten in a semi-final with the world's top three sprinters.  

It ended up being the fastest semi-final race in world championship history.  

"It was a really rewarding season. It's been a really special one, and I'm really looking forward to 2024.  

"Time is gold, so it's going to come around very, very quickly."  

And gold is what she hopes to be receiving, rather than handing out.