March 2023, Articles

‘Edinburgh of the south’ Performance Pathway hub is humming

There’s a real buzz around high performance sport in Dunedin with a good number of TAPS athletes, strong support from NSOs supporting athletes in the region and a Pathways programme which is going from strength to strength with 35 athletes from eight sports – swimming, hockey, rowing, basketball, athletics, surf lifesaving, netball and cricket – and building.

HPSNZ Regional Performance Pathways Lead Belinda Colling says the Dunedin Pathways hub will bring on up to 50 athletes across a range of sports, identified by RSOs and endorsed by NSOs against their evidence-based pathways.

“The increasing regional perspective is founded on the premise the local region knows their athletes well and which of its pre-high performance athletes have the potential to transition to high performance in the next four to five years, heading towards 2028 and 2032.”

While not considered a traditional high performance region with high numbers of TAPs athletes, Belinda says Dunedin is a great hub, especially for sport Performance Pathways athletes.

“The university attracts 25,000 students each year, many of whom are still working out what the next step is in their sporting journey.  Dunedin is great for athletes – everything is close, nothing is more than five minutes away, facilities and coaches are outstanding and they can combine their study goals, get a tertiary qualification and continue on their sporting pathway.

“Talent identification athletes train alongside high performance athletes which provides good exposure to learn what the high performance space is like and be exposed to a range of other sports.  This creates a very positive training and learning environment,” says Belinda.

The Performance Pathways programme adopts a holistic approach to pre-high performance athlete development.

“We use the ‘Raise my Game’ performance planning tool developed by former Black Stick Suzy Muirhead and we are working closely with the HPSNZ Performance Life team and the athletes’ circle of support to help with transition readiness.”

An important feature of the Performance Pathway programme is the creation of a pool of mentors.

“Empirical evidence clearly shows that athletes supporting athletes provides an independent support network and perspective for pre-high performance athletes,” says Belinda.

Olympic rower and former Otago University student Ruby Tew is part of what is described as the Performance Pathways mentoring concept which harnesses the experience of mentors and provides cross-sport learning on a pre-high performance athlete’s journey.

“An ability to learn from and train in the same facilities as my role models was a defining moment in my career as a young rower,” says Ruby.

“It gave me an additional source of motivation to see them work towards Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games goals every single day.  A place where this support is provided for the next generation of New Zealand athletes in a structured and readily available format is something I am so excited to be part of.”

Ruby, along with other high performance mentors, will help facilitate workshops where they share personal perspectives that will help pre-high performance athletes on their high performance pathway as well as being available for individual support and mentoring.

Dunedin Performance Pathway athletes Louisa Kotkamp (cricket) and Benji Culhane (hockey) with HPSNZ S&C specialist Michael Webb