November 2021, Articles

New thinking, new skills, new hope – Crossroads 2021

Positive feedback from participants has highlighted the success of Crossroads 2021, High Performance Sport NZ’s recent online event designed to support athletes navigating transitions following pinnacle events in Tokyo.

Open conversations with athlete alumni and peers, and inspirational keynote speakers were well received by athletes at a time when many have opportunities, challenges and decisions in front of them. This year the two-day Crossroads event was held online due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Athletes past and present shared tips and insights gained through their own experience of high performance campaigning. The candid and generous sharing was well received by athletes including Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist Dylan Schmidt.

“Crossroads was a great opportunity to connect with other athletes, as much as possible given the Covid lockdown restrictions. There were some good discussions in the breakout groups around decision making and the crossroads ahead and I enjoyed hearing other people thoughts,” Dylan says.

Leon Hayward, Men’s Hockey goalkeeper in Tokyo, found the event insightful as he navigates his future direction; “Crossroads is the best event I’ve been to for athlete support in my life. It’s not only helped me to begin my transition into working life but has helped me better understand the financial side of being an athlete. This event is a must for all HPSNZ supported athletes.”

Alongside the panel discussions two keynote speakers presented. Both acknowledged what a privilege it was to be speaking with such high calibre New Zealand athletes who inspire the nation through their performances on the world stage.

Jamie Fitzgerald (Atlantic rower, Intrepid NZ presenter, South Pole unaided adventurer and professional business mentor and consultant) talked about principles and knowing what you stand for, reflecting on when you were at your best and replicating that, giving 100% commitment, and the power of understanding and including others.

Brad Smeele (professional wakeboarder who is quadriplegic after a heavy crash in 2014) inspired the audience to think differently when faced with challenges and life transitions. He shared insights around learning to sit with your emotions, being curious and learning to go with the flow, and to understand the story you tell yourself and what meaning you give things.

HPSNZ’s Athlete Life Advisors put together the Crossroads 2021 forum aimed at supporting New Zealand Olympians and Paralympians as they work through what’s next for them.

Head of Athlete Life Chris Arthur describes the event being about bringing athletes together to gain new thinking, learn new skills and new hope around designing the future they want.

“Crossroads is defined as a critical decision point. We understand that post pinnacle event ‘blues’ is a real thing, and we want to normalise the feelings and grief that come after finishing something that has been all consuming so athletes can acknowledge their feelings and take action to move forward,” says Chris.

“I’d like to express my thanks to all those who willingly took part as a panelist or presenter, and to all the athletes who attended,” she adds.

HPSNZ-supported athletes who were unable to attend Crossroads 2021 can contact their Athlete Life Advisor to access recordings of online event.