Sunday, February 3, 2013

New Zealand High Preformance

As seen in the media recently Cambridge has acquired another high performance program to go with the already very successful rowing program and the cycling program which is due to kick off once the new velodrome is completed.

Cambridge is a perfect option for the triathlon program, it has all the facilities you need.

There are several swimming pools and lake access.

Cycling wise it arguably has the best riding options in all the places I have lived in New Zealand, quiet roads, flat roads, hilly roads, rough chip and a fair amount of wind for compulsory strength training. It was obviously a good place to train as shown by the amount of past Olympians to come out of places close to Cambridge including Sarah Ulmer, Tim Gudsell, Pete Latham, Michelle Hyland to name a few which have went to recent Olympics.

Running wise, there is a beautiful grass 400m track (which could do with some rolling J though), several hard packed gravel paths and numerous trails beside the river and grass options on the outskirts of town. Then my personal favourite, the Sanatorium loop, which is 29k of some big hills and wonderful scenery, the Waikato equivalent of the famous Waitaks circuit. Dick Quax, New Zealands 5000m world record holder did many laps around this circuit and I expect the triathletes coming to town will do the same.

So Cambridge has all the facilities for high performance but will it produce the next Hamish Carter or Bevan Docherty? Probably not in my opinion, looking at the last couple of Contact series races where the future champions should be racing, there is a clear lack of entrants. Forget about the performance for an instance, there is just not enough young athletes racing to create a base from where the next Olympic champions will come from. Look at sprint nationals yesterday, 20 under 19 men and women racing in total in the elite category. So from those 10 men tri NZ has to find a medallist, that’s making things difficult right from the get go.  Go further back to the Whangamata and Rotorua Contact races and it was even more disappointing. Graham Ogrady and Clark Ellice clear winners without any young guys clipping at their heals. Rachel Hamill , the 42yr old mum of three winning the womens race in Rotorua with not even a young lady in sight.
Some people might say Whangamata and Rotorua where non drafting races therefore its different to a draft legal race.  But you only have to look at the Brownlie brothers, they are two of the best bike riders on the circuit, that’s one reason they can run sub 30min off the bike. Mikayla Nielsen was the only young athlete out there learning her trade in those races.

So what can TriNZ do to create a bigger base of competitive athletes?

1 - Direct recruitment from the swim clubs , there are plenty of skinny swimmers out there that are built like runners who have never actually ran in their lives. Give them a pathway to get to the top.

2 – Discounted/Free entries to all Contact races for the U19s athletes. Where is the money going to come from? Sell some of the SRMs which are not actually used for any benefit

3 – Get some decent coaches involved in each centre who can look after and mentor the younger athletes. Most kids and teenagers like nothing better to be involved in a squad and if you can create an environment where there is good advice been given and some healthy competition champions will be created.

4 – Any members of the Tri NZ youth/performance teams be contracted to race the contact series

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