November 2023,

HPSNZ Update November 2023

From the Director of High Performance

Kia ora tātou,

As always, it is heartening to see recent examples of Kiwi athletes excelling on the world stage including Hayden Wilde, Erika Fairweather, Ellesse Andrews and many others in individual sports, and the likes of the All Blacks, Black Caps, Silver Ferns, Kiwis and others in team sports.

However, one of the keys to being successful in high performance sport is the ability to focus on what we sometimes call ‘multiple horizons’.

In other words, while ensuring we work together to leave no stone unturned in the quest for immediate success at the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we can’t lose sight of what we need to do now to ensure repeated success on the world stage in the future – including Milano Cortina 2026, Los Angeles 2028, Brisbane 2032 and beyond.

This balancing act is a constant in our day-to-day mahi with athletes, coaches and NSOs, as the content in this edition of HPSNZ Update illustrates.

On the Paris front, our innovation team recently opened the doors into their world revealing some of the brilliantly creative and specialised work they are doing to help athletes and coaches train and compete at their best ahead of Paris 2024. If you missed the story on TVNZ, we have a link to it here.

On the subject of Wellbeing, we are working with NSOs on resources for immediate use as well as partnering with the University of Canterbury on research that will inform future athlete wellbeing strategies.

Creating and nurturing a pipeline of talented athletes who are prepared for the high performance pathway is critical for future success. To illustrate this, we put the spotlight on Canoe Racing athlete Olivia Brett who entered the pathway as a 16-year-old following her success in the Junior World Championships and has advanced to this year’s World Championship winning K4 500 crew.

Our final story in this edition demonstrates how we are supporting today’s high performance coaches and HP coaches of the future and enhancing diversity among coaches and leaders in the HP sector. This work is ongoing in our Te Hāpaitanga coaching programme and Women in High Performance Sport Residency experience.

All of these aspects of working towards multiple horizons will be part of our 2028 Strategic Plan in some form, as they have been in the current cycle. If we continue to work together to get these things right, they will contribute to the sustainable success which is the goal of New Zealand’s High Performance System Strategy 2032.

Ngā mihi nui,

Olympic and Paralympic Perspectives: Adrian Blincoe

Adrian Blincoe running at Beijing 2008
Kiwi distance runner Adrian Blincoe runs in the heats of the 5000mtrs at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. 20 August 2008. Photo: Lawrence Smith/PHOTOSPORT

In the second feature in our series of interviews with HPSNZ’s own former Olympians and Paralympians, we talk with Beijing 2008 5000m athlete Adrian Blincoe, who had the distinction of being New Zealand’s 1000th Olympian.

Now an HPSNZ Performance Team Leader working with Athletics, Canoe Racing and Snow Sports, Adrian shares his reflections, highlights and occasional challenges from his time as a New Zealand Olympian.

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Mountain backdrop to Te Hāpaitanga residential

Tia Winikerei holding an ice pick on top of a mountain
Tia Winikerei taking on Aoraki/Mount Cook

Breathtakingly beautiful, stunning and majestic are just some of the words Te Hāpaitanga participant, netball coach Tia Winikerei, uses to describe the eagerly anticipated third residential course held at Aoraki/Mount Cook earlier this month.

A breakthrough season for Tia saw her go from apprentice Mystics netball coach to leading the northern franchise to a competition win in her rookie year as head coach.

Following such a huge year, Tia describes the residential as providing the space and time to “just be and focus on self”, a reflection that the hurly burly of top level coaching doesn’t always allow.

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Canoe Racing reaping rewards of performance pathways

Celebrating at the end of a canoe race

Canoe Racing is one of the sports seeing the benefits of performance pathways programmes in their current and previous iterations.

CRNZN’s men’s head coach and former high performance development manager, Craig Mustard, says the sport is working closely with HPSNZ’s performance life coaching team and the Christchurch regional performance hub to transition two young athletes from foundation, through identification and, hopefully, to elite level.

Craig says the key principles of HPSNZ’s Performance Pathway programme are aligned to CRNZ’s longer term development planning which recognises that development takes time, that it is extremely beneficial for young athletes to stay close to home, to build a trusted support team and work with the sport on the transition readiness to elite level.

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Groundbreaking athlete wellbeing research underway

Two people sitting at an outdoor table having a conversation

Athletes are encouraged to get involved in a unique wellbeing research programme, which is underway under the direction of University of Canterbury PhD candidate, Lindsay Hill, in conjunction with HPSNZ.

The project is the first to look at athlete wellbeing end to end, from pre high performance to retirement.

“There has been a lot of research undertaken with athletes going into or in retirement or at other specific stages of the athlete journey,” says Lindsay.  “This research, Athlete’s Lived Experiences of Wellbeing on the High Performance Pathway in Aotearoa/New Zealand, accounted by athletes, their coaches and their chosen supports, seeks to hear from multiple perspectives on athlete wellbeing.”

The research is currently live and comprises two key components.  Part 1 is a 15 minute online survey for athletes end to end on the HPSNZ pathway from pre-HP athletes to athletes retired since Tokyo (August 2021).  Part 2 is an in-depth, 30 to 45 minute interview with athletes about their end to end pathway and includes their coach and a chosen support person, either personal or professional.

How to get involved:


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HPSNZ wizardry for Paris bound athletes

Man working in the HPSNZ Innovation Lab

As Kiwi athletes focus on preparations and planning for Paris 2024, a small group of engineers, software and hardware programmers, electrical experts and others are working with them behind the scenes to develop technology innovations that will help in the quest for medals.

The team recently opened its doors for TV One News to check out the work being done for Olympic prospects in three sports – sailing, canoe racing and swimming.

Known internally as Goldmine, the Innovation team, led by Simon Briscoe, has contributed to more than 100 World, Olympic and Paralympic medals over the past 10 years.

“We can’t win medals but the work we do in developing innovative technologies enables our athletes get as close as possible to the winning line,” says Simon.

Check out the link to One News sports editor, Abby Wilson’s story.

Hui helps progress Wellbeing Framework and Guidelines

physio performing physiotherapy on an athlete

HPSNZ hosted a two-day hui for Wellbeing Managers and Leads in mid-October as a key part of progressing work related to the Wellbeing Framework and Guidelines.

Some 10 NSO Wellbeing leads and Sport NZ and HPSNZ representatives attended the hui which brought the group together to look at wellbeing policies and processes as well as roles and responsibilities.

HPSNZ Wellbeing and Engagement Lead, Dr Toni Minniti, says this was a significant opportunity for meaningful discussion that included sharing of best practices and promoting and embedding wellbeing within NSOs.

“The two days were highly focused and were instrumental in progressing foundational work that will yield long-term and system-wide benefits in the wellbeing space,” says Toni.

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Empower workshop targets Paris 2024

Group of smiling athletes sitting around a table at a workshop

A small group of 10 athletes aspiring to be in Paris for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024 came together earlier this month for a two day workshop, Empower, which aimed to provide skills in a safe and secure space for athletes to share some of their hopes, dreams and fears.

Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls were nominated by their NSOs for the workshop, facilitated by HPSNZ’s Performance Life team headed by Chris Arthur and supported by Carolyn Donaldson.

The group ranged from experienced Olympians and world champions, international representatives through to junior world champions just beginning their performance journey.

Chris says the mix allowed athletes to share their stories and the learnings were hugely powerful.

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