April 2023,

HPSNZ Update April 2023

From the Chief Executive

Kia ora tatou,

The countdown to Paris 2024 got a little more real this month with HPSNZ representatives joining those from the NZOC and Paralympics New Zealand for an important visit to the host city to check on Games venues, athlete accommodation and logistics for the NZ Team.

This edition of HPSNZ Update features an interview with HPSNZ GM of Athlete Performance Support Fiona Mather who was on the trip. She talks about her impressions, priorities for Games-time readiness and what’s next in the preparations for Paris.

I was fortunate to visit Paris with the NZOC following the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022 and I would certainly second Fiona’s view that these will be an iconic Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Our preparations for Paris and beyond include an increased focus on wellbeing. You can read in this HPSNZ Update how our women’s health programme is taking shape, how athletes can have input into that and how female athletes can book directly with our dedicated specialist doctor focusing on women’s health.

Another key focus of our wellbeing programme is athlete mental wellbeing. Last month we released high level findings from a Massey University study on athlete mental wellbeing. Our intention is to work with the NZOC and NSOs to provide a range of educational modules and resources for athletes and coaches to support mental wellbeing. Watch this space.

This edition of HPSNZ Update also focusses on the newest of our coaching programmes Kia Manawanui Performance Coaching in Action, which has launched this year. It targets selected coaches who are working with potential podium performance athletes preparing for international pinnacle events from 2026 onwards.

Finally, one of the highlights for me this month was joining the 100 Days to Go celebrations for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Kiwis still haven’t got their heads around how big and exciting this is going to be – the biggest women’s sporting event in history! It’s a genuine once in a lifetime opportunity for New Zealand. So get into it and get your tickets!

Ngā mihi

On the road to Paris 2024

Fiona Mather, Bruce Hamilton and Lynette Grace (PNZ) overlooking the athletes' village
Fiona Mather, Bruce Hamilton and Lynette Grace (PNZ) overlooking the athletes’ village

HPSNZ GM of Athlete Performance Support, Fiona Mather, joined a 12-strong New Zealand delegation of NZOC, Paralympics NZ and HPSNZ representatives on a recent visit to Paris to view venues, facilities and accommodation inside and outside the Games village for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Joined by NZOC Medical Lead (and HPSNZ Director of Performance Health) Dr Bruce Hamilton and NZOC psychologist Kylie Wilson to get a first-hand view of progress in the City of Lights, Fiona says the Games will be the ffirst Olympics and Paralympics in the post-COVID era and it is exciting to see how a European country will deliver this global event using its iconic landmarks, monuments, rivers and bridges.

“It will be extra special to see the world’s best athletes compete against the backdrop of some of the world’s most iconic places.”

Apart from the glorious city that is Paris, Fiona says a key focus was to understand from an Athlete Performance Support perspective the logistics of travel and accommodation and, more importantly, how to preserve the continuity of training, familiarity of routines and ensuring optimal physical and mental preparation and recovery when it matters most.

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HPSNZs latest coaching initiative kicks off with new hosting feature

Bowls NZ's Mike Kernaghan hosting a practical coaching session

The first intake of coaches in HPSNZ’s latest coaching initiative, Kia Manawanui Performance Coaching in Action, came together for the first time earlier this month.

Kia Manawanui is a future-focused, coach development initiative designed to support coaches working with the next cycle of high performance athletes.

Fifteen coaches from 13 sports have been selected for the 24 month initiative and were joined by Head of Coaching and Programme Lead, Daryl Gibson, and Coaching Consultant, Lyn Gunson, for the inaugural two day workshop.

A unique feature of Kia Manawanui is a programme of hosting whereby each coach will host the wider group at their sports venue and demonstrate their coaching practice and challenges in the context of their own sport and issues it faces.

The first two coaches to host were Bowls NZ head coach Mike Kernaghan and Diving NZ’s high performance springboard diving coach Cordelia Norris who each took a half day session at their respective sports venues.

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Match made in heaven for Hawke’s Bay athletes 

People working out in a new gym

A partnership between HPSNZ and the Hawke’s Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust is bearing fruit for elite and pre-high performance athletes in Hawke’s Bay.

Based at the world class training facilities operating out of the EIT Institute of Sport and Health, the partnership will enable nationally endorsed performance pathway athletes, coaches and their whānau to work collaboratively with quality expertise on the planning and development of their future aspirations.

The facilities have been modelled on Auckland’s AUT Millennium and include the recently opened 50 metre pool, an indoor running track, sports gym and sports hall.

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HPSNZ increases support for female athlete health

HPSNZ photoshoot, Women on Rowing machines NZ High Performance Centre
HPSNZ photoshoot, Rowing NZ High Performance Centre, Lake Karapiro, near Cambridge, New Zealand. Wednesday 11 November 2020. © Copyright Photo: Stephen Barker / www.photosport.nz

HPSNZ has new resources in place to support the health of female athletes and they are keen to hear the views of athletes.

As part of HPSNZ’s strategic focus on wellbeing and engagement, women’s health is an ongoing prioirty.

HPSNZ has employed a specialist medical practitioner focussing on female health, Dr Helen Fulcher and, more recently, a lead for healthy women in performance sports, physiologist Dr Sue Robson.

Following the establishment of the HPSNZ’s Wellbeing and Leadership team the focus has been on actively listening to sports and athletes and identifying priorities to create real change.

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Personal development focus for Women in High Performance Sport

WHPS Lead Helene Wilson at the personal development workshop
WHPS Lead Helene Wilson at the personal development workshop

The commitment to fostering personal development for Women in High Performance Sport recently saw 14 women, all of whom are candidates for the 2023 Women in High Performance Sport Residency Experience, come together for a one-day workshop.

The event was conducted through the lens of ‘Me, We and World’ with sessions which helped the women learn about their own behavioural styles, the evolving consciousness of leadership, concluding with a session on active listening skills.

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Spotlight on Aspirational Sports

Surf Life Saving and Waka Ama are the latest to feature in our video series highlighting HPSNZ’s partnerships with Aspirational Sports.

Both have recently held their 2023 National Championships and our crew was at both events to catch up with some of their high performance athletes.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand has a proud history of winning world championships in 2012, 2014 and 2016. Their goal is to repeat that success within the next five years. Find out more from their high performance athletes and coaches and see them in action at the 2023 Surf Life Saving National Championships here.

Check out what some of the waka ama high performance athletes have to say about their sport’s high performance programme here.

From hockey to the thin blue line

Frances Davies playing hockey
Frances Davies (100th test) during the International Hockey match between the Blacksticks Women and Spain, Tauranga Hockey, Blake Park, Tauranga, New Zealand. Sunday 29 January 2023. Photo: Simon Watts/www.bwmedia.co.nz

The revamped Prime Minister’s Scholarship Internship programme has worked particularly well for Tokyo Olympics Black Stick, Frances Davies, who has been able to take advantage of its increased flexibility to gain work experience that fits around her needs as an athlete.

Based in Amsterdam playing professional hockey for the prestigious Hurley club has meant Frances has only brief windows of opportunity back in New Zealand to progress her career plans, which were in the criminal justice system.

Thanks to the PM’s Scholarship Internship programme, that included work experience with the NZ Police earlier this year.

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Keeping our triathletes fuelled

Three women running in a triathlon
Nicole van der Kaay of New Zealand in action during the Triathlon Mixed Team Relay on Day 3 of the XXII Commonwealth Games at Sutton Park in Birmingham, England, Sunday, July 31, 2022. (AAP Image / www.photosport.nz)

Dealing with the challenges of keeping New Zealand’s high performance triathletes fuelled and in peak condition rests largely on the shoulders of HPSNZ Performance Nutritionists, Kim Abbott, Rebecca Cooke and Sara Richardson.

Several factors drive the complexity of triathletes’ nutrition needs including home and away, high training loads and competing in sprint and mixed team relays and long distance events.

While the triathletes have been in New Zealand for the domestic season, HPSNZ nutritionists have used the opportunity to assess where they are at and what adjustments need to be made to their nutrition programmes.

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