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The creation of New Zealand’s first nationwide talent development programme, called Pathway to Podium, has been announced today. The programme will identify emerging athletes and ensure they’re better prepared to enter the demanding high performance sport system.
Through Sport New Zealand and High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ), the government will initially invest $1m in the programme, which aims to provide a step up for talented young athletes and their coaches.
HPSNZ Chief Executive Alex Baumann says it is part of the government's commitment to helping more Kiwi athletes win on the world stage.
"We have many talented young athletes and coaches throughout New Zealand, but we lose some of them along the way because the pathway to high performance is not clear, or they were not well prepared for it," he says.
"Pathway to Podium will help ensure talented young prospects around New Zealand get the support they need to have their best shot at success. We expect some of the athletes selected in the initial 2014 intake to go on to win medals at the 2020 and 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games or at world championships."
Selected athletes and their coaches will receive wide-ranging support and guidance, including in the areas of performance planning, training regimes, strength and conditioning, and nutrition. About 220 to 250 young athletes are expected to be selected in the first year of the programme, and around 150 coaches.
Sport New Zealand Chief Executive Peter Miskimmin says the programme will be delivered through a number of regional talent hubs around the country.
"Through Pathway to Podium, the athletes will be able to access local facilities and train in close proximity to their homes, families and peer support until they're ready to enter the formal high performance system.
"High performance sport is mentally and physically tough. So the more we can do to prepare our young people the better.
"This is an exciting development, as it will help close a previous gap in our system, between community and high performance sport," Miskimmin says.
As well as government funding, the regional talent hubs will be supported by key local stakeholders from within and outside the sports sector. Details of which sports will be part of the programme and the location of hubs are still being finalised. The programme will commence in April 2014.