Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Mauao fundraiser for fellow athlete

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Alex Hart, here on Tauranga Harbour, will endure 24 hours of laps up and down Mauao to raise funds for Olympic windsurfer Natalia Kosinska.
Alex Hart, here on Tauranga Harbour, will endure 24 hours of laps up and down Mauao to raise funds for Olympic windsurfer Natalia Kosinska.

Today's younger generation of athletes are often categorised as being totally self-absorbed and only interested in what they can get for themselves.

But this weekend Alex Hart, 19, from Mount Maunganui will prove that wrong with a totally selfless act to help a fellow athlete get to the Rio Olympics.

Hart is one of New Zealand's best young windsurfing prospects and will put himself through a significant endurance test to raise money for Auckland windsurfer Natalia Kosinska.

Hart will attempt to set a record for laps up and down Mauao in a 24-hour period, beginning at 5pm Saturday and finishing at 5pm on Sunday.

"I enjoy long distance trail running as cross training for windsurfing. I hope the 24-hour Mauao challenge fundraiser will make the balance between work and training a little easier for Natalia, as well as knowing the New Zealand windsurfing community sincerely wishes her all the best," he said.

Kosinska narrowly missed the higher New Zealand standard required for funding so has to compete at the ISAF World Cup in Hyeres, France, at the end of April for her last chance to reach that funding criteria.

All proceeds from this weekend's remarkable test of Hart's physical and mental fortitude will go towards new equipment, professional coaching and travel expenses for Kosinska's windsurfing campaign to the ISAF World Cup in April.

"Natalia trains often in Tauranga and runs an annual coaching clinic for the next generation of youth windsurfers at the Tauranga Yacht and Powerboat Club," Hart said.

"She let me under her wing in the summer of 2013 and 2014 by inviting me to all of her training sessions, and giving me tips that greatly improved my own windsurfing.

"I am still grateful for the tips and advice she gave me when I was in the youth divisions and trained with her often. Despite being a former youth world champion amongst other great results, she remains modest and has an excellent attitude to training.

"It's also for my own satisfaction because I have had the idea in the back of my mind for a while."

Hart competes in two different disciplines of windsurfing, the RS:X Olympic Class and Slalom. He is the under-21 RS:X national champion and placed third at the 2016 Open Men's Slalom National Championships.

He has aspirations to compete on the PWA World Windsurfing Tour for Slalom, and represent New Zealand at the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games.

"I enjoy competing, but my passion is searching for isolated scenic windsurfing spots where I can just wind surf and forget about everything else.

"This winter I am travelling to Hawaii for six weeks to train and compete in the Maui Races Series for Slalom."

- The general public is welcome to make donations or pledges per lap to support Hart on his fundraiser at the base of Mauao on Sunday.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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