Andy Kruy

Chasing The Games

Sportsman Andy Kruy is currently the third-fastest man in the country, and at just 22 years old. His achievements in athletics include medals in the 100 metres and long jump at New Zealand championship level. With no signs of slowing down (literally), he looks forward to some day becoming the fastest man in New Zealand.

Andy found his passion for sports at a young age, when his early school days were filled with playing lunchtime games with friends. It was the influence of these friends that had Andy wanting to play Saturday morning rugby for a local club. “It’s a funny story, because I remember when I was 11 years old I had to beg my Dad to let me play. I think I even cried so that he would say yes.”

Andy understands how his parents might have seen club sport as a distraction from getting a much-valued education, given what they had been through. Andy’s parents came to
New Zealand as refugees, having escaped from Cambodia during the rule of the communist Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s. This devastating government cost nearly two million
Cambodians their lives during the four years that would become known as the Cambodian Genocide.

“When I was younger I was told about this, just so that I would know where I had come from and how fortunate we were to live in this land of opportunity.”

Andy KruyAttending Freyberg High School gave Andy plenty of opportunities, and in particular allowed him to further his interest in sports. However, Andy was also faced with his
biggest challenge during his time at high school, when his mother passed away.

“I wanted to give up sport, and I actually took a month off to go back to Cambodia.”

On returning to New Zealand, Andy found his passion for sport had not left him, and what followed was what he personally considers one of his most successful years.

While in his last year of high school, Andy managed to juggle club sports, his role as a House Captain and school work, while also gaining scholarships that would enable him to attend Massey University. He made history as House Captain by leading his house to win the House Cup for the first time in 15 years. This was also the first year that he won a national title in long jump, breaking the long jump record held by former professional rugby player Mark Ranby.

At Massey University, Andy decided to switch his sporting focus to athletics. The close proximity of the track, and support from the Academy of Sport, helped him to balance
his studies with his training.

“Some days I would have to skip training to get assignments done, but overall it was really easy. After my lectures finished for the day I could jump straight down to the
track. If it had been even five kilometres away it would have been way more difficult.”

This balancing act between sport and study paid off for Andy, when he graduated from Massey with a Bachelor of Business Studies in Sport Management and Business Management, as well as making the senior grade in athletics.

With his degree in hand Andy has gone on to work at Sport Manawatu as a Community Sports Advisor. This role involves working with sports clubs and unions around the
region to increase participation in sport, increase junior numbers, and help groups with funding opportunities – work that Andy is loving.

Realistically, I have from now until I’m maybe 30, so that’s really only eight years to live this dream.

Meanwhile Andy’s job hasn’t slowed him down at all on the track. He gained a bronze medal in the 2013 New Zealand championship men’s 100 metres, and as a member of the New
Zealand men’s relay squad he and teammates Scott Burch, Zac Topping and William Smart came second in the 2013 senior men’s national competition.

Although he has to travel north every two months to train with the rest of the relay team, Andy himself has never felt he needed to move to further his sporting career. A big reason for this is the confidence he has in his coaches.

“Anne Thomson and George McConachy have been coaching me for a good five years now and our great relationship is getting results, so why move?”

These past few years have kept Andy quite busy, and although he may not have a lot of spare time outside sports, Andy knows he won’t be competing in athletics meets all his life. “Realistically, I have from now until I’m maybe 30, so that’s really only eight years to live this dream.”

A long way to go

Pulling the extra miles

Jakub Postrzygacz has traversed some of the world’s most dramatic and unforgiving landscapes by bike. He says it’s the physical and mental toughness that helps pull the extra miles.

Ten years ago, Jakub Postrgacz came across a group of journalists that were travelling in a four-wheel-drive convoy across Australia’s Canning Stock Route, the longest off-road trail in the world.

AustraliaHe says he was mesmerised by what he saw, and later completed the first unsupported crossing of the Canning by bike. The experience changed his life.

With a total distance of around 1850 kilometres, the Canning Stock Route is one of the toughest and most remote tracks in the world. It runs from Halls Creek in the Kimberley region of Western Australia to Wiluna in the mid-west region.

“I asked one of the journalists I met during an expedition, whether it would be possible to do such trip by bike and he basically just burst out laughing and said forget about it,” Jakub says.

However, Jakub was determined. It took a couple of years working with different companies to develop a bike that could ride in difficult sandy terrain and from there he completed the trip.

“It took 33 days and I lost 18 kilograms, which was a pretty good diet,” he says. “Nothing can really prepare you for such a long journey. Quite often you would ride for the whole day and cover 20 or 30 kilometres and you look at your speedometer and you know there’s another 1500 ahead of you before you finish.”

It’s the fittest people who can suffer the most because their bodies require more oxygen to work the muscles. You can be super fit at sea level but at 4000m above sea level that can change.

Jakub grew up in Poland, and moved to New Zealand eight years ago “for a woman”. His wife Adrianna came here as a child and then moved back to Poland again where she met Jakub in high school. She always wanted to come back and live here, so that’s what they did.

“We decided to do a cycling trip around New Zealand which was about 600km long just to experience the country a bit more. Then we decided that this was the place to be.”

His reason for coming to Palmerston however was business. Having worked with the Avanti cycling company for a number of years, he was asked to open up a new shop in the area.

“They needed someone to look after the existing customers and provide good service and so I ended up here.”

In the store, Jakub’s quite obviously in his element. This is a man for whom cycling is not merely a sport or a hobby. It is a passion. He lives and breathes it.

The whole family is interested in cycling to a certain degree. “All three children have bikes and we have a family bike with the kids on a trailer on the back and my wife on the back behind me.” He says.

While Jakub has been cycling ever since he can remember, his cycling expeditions really began when he was a teenager.

Downhill from here“Back in high school there was a priest who was very much into cycling who was one of the teachers in the school. Together we formed a club that would organise bicycle tours around Poland and later in Europe”

Jakub went to Italy and France – among other places – and says it was his first taste of adventure.

His interest kept growing.

He and his wife travelled around Ireland on bikes they built themselves at a scrap yard just outside of Dublin. The bikes are still intact. “We spoke to our friends last year and they say they are still using those bikes,” he says.

Jakub has taken on challenges that have never been completed before. He was motivated to do more he says “you get hungry and you want to look for more adventure.”

Helping handHe cycled in the Himalayas. It all came about when one of his good friends called him asking for advice regarding going to Tibet. He came back and told his wife about it who said; “You didn’t ask to go with him?”

“So I asked if he needed a logistical supporter and mechanic and he said ‘hell yeah’,” Jakub says.

It was a big call. At the time his daughter was only about three weeks old and they were just starting the new business, but it was too good of an opportunity to give up.

“We put the party together and went through China, and across Tibet to Nepal, through the friendship highway, and the basecamp of Everest. The basecamp was actually closed to visitors due to political tension before the Olympics, so there was a lot of sneaking past checkpoints at night and things like that. Luckily nobody was shot or arrested!”

When your body is pushed to its extreme and out of your comfort zone, it’s no longer a physical exercise but a mental exercise too

The trip took place in 2007. The whole journey took about a month including acclimatization, but consisted of about three weeks riding.

In terms of training Jakub says he was too busy with family and work and had to “pull some extra miles on the trip.” He says the biggest challenge was the altitude.

“It’s the fittest people who can suffer the most because their bodies require more oxygen to work the muscles. You can be super fit at sea level but at 4000m above sea level that can change.”

In taking on these sorts of trips, Jakub has become well-versed in the challenges that come along with them.

Admiring the viewsHe says both long-term endurance and psychological strength are essential. “When your body is pushed to its
extreme and out of your comfort zone, it’s no longer a physical exercise but a mental exercise too,” he says.

In cycling the Manawatu, Jakub says the best thing is that there are many fantastic rides within an hour or two hour’s drive of Palmerston North’s city centre. “Proper, world-class, wonderful trips.”

In New Zealand he says some of his favourite trails to ride are in the Central Plateau and the Bridge to Nowhere in Whanganui National Park.

“If you enjoy meeting new people, great food and great wine then you can’t beat the rail trail.”

Tough goingLooking to continue his impressive portfolio of cycling expeditions, the trip he’s planning next is certainly an ambitious one. “We’ve been working on a big project for quite a few years now to go and cycle the South Pole.“

Jakub was once lucky enough to meet Sir Edmund Hillary and was given some sound advice over a cup of tea and some homemade biscuits.

“He said you should search for adventure. If you find one you should take all you’ve got, all your strength, experience and passion. If you succeed you will have the privilege of doing something for the first time.”

Jakub says it’s made him a different person.

Tim working his magic

Malt of the Earth

A local farmer at Hiwinui Country Estate, Tim Stewart is the only commercial craft beer brewer in Manawatū. He developed an interest in beer brewing after spending time in Turriff, the whisky region of Scotland, and began producing his own craft beer when he returned home.

At 16 years old Tim left school and began working on the family farm, where he became interested in cropping. He left the family farm at age 18 to work as an agricultural contractor in north-east Scotland during their summer months, where he learnt a lot about the whisky distillation process, which is very similar to brewing unhopped beer. “We grew barley at home and I could see that I could easily make beer and get more value from the grain,” Tim says.

The team - Tim and SimoneTim began brewing 15 years ago while working on the family farm, and designed a nano brewing system that enabled him to make and test different flavours. Success at the Central Districts Field Days in March this year marked the beginning of the family-owned Stewart Brewing Co.

Tim and his wife Simone, who is in charge of marketing and sales, met through mutual friends as teenagers. After a long-distance relationship for two years, Simone moved to Palmerston North to complete her marketing degree at Massey University. They have been together for 15 years and have four children.

 It’s all about timing. Being patient and letting the beer do its own thing in its own time is so important. Timing is everything.

Currently Tim brews his beer out of Massey University’s Microbrewery, at the food science and technology unit, where he is able to produce commercial quantities.

While guests at Hiwinui Country Estate have been enjoying Stewart Brewing Co.’s craft beer for some time now, the increasing popularity and demand has meant that the beer is becoming more widely available.

Top of the HopsTim has so far brewed two different types of beer. A German/New Zealand-styled pilsner, called ‘Top of the Hops’ was Tim’s first commercially brewed beer and he enjoyed success at the Central Districts Field Days, where it sold out.

The brewing process requires “a lot of time and a lot of waiting”, Tim says. The beer needs to ferment for 10-14 days while the brewing process takes about five to eight weeks depending on the type of beer. Once the brewing process is complete the beer needs to be bottled and labelled.

“It’s all about timing. Being patient and letting the beer do its own thing in its own time is so important. Timing is everything.”