Tauranga Boys' College Olympic hopefuls

By Allison Hess, Anna Whyte

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Tauranga Boys' College principal Robert Mangan is pleased with the six past pupils attending the Rio Olympics this year. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER
Tauranga Boys' College principal Robert Mangan is pleased with the six past pupils attending the Rio Olympics this year. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER

Tauranga Boys' College is once again a top school for Olympic athletes, with staff putting the former students' success down to the use of role modelling and hard work.

Principal Robert Mangan said the school had six "Old Boys" attending the Rio games this year - Peter Burling, Jason Saunders and Sam Meech for the sailing events, Mahe Drysdale in rowing and Mike Dawson for canoe/kayak slalom.

Bryden Nicholas would be representing the Cook Islands in canoe/kayak slalom.

"Not many other schools in the country could claim that many," he said.

"I think it's a significant achievement in itself to be representing New Zealand and the Cook Islands."

Mr Mangan said the college had seven athletes at the 2012 Olympics.

These were decathlete Brent Newdick, Mike Dawson in canoe slalom, Kurt Pickard in BMX,
Peter Burling and Jason Saunders in sailing, Mahe Drysdale in the single scull rowing event and Andy Hayward will represent New Zealand in the men's Black Sticks hockey team.

Old Boy Craig Gribble was also involved as a men's hockey umpire manager.

Mr Mangan put the high number of emerging athletes down to the way the school presented its high achievers to its present students.

"There is the role modelling, there is the focus on the achievement of the present boys at both national and international level, then there is the focus on our old boys."

Mr Mangan said using the athletes as role models, "makes the boys confident that the recipe is here for their success, if they are prepared put the hard work in".

Tauranga Boys' College kayaking coach and teacher Rob Sperling said the recipe for the school's sporting success was a "simple business planned applied from the start to be the top school in five years, and we did that in three, and had that for 13-years straight".

"We dominate. This school here is 100 per cent behind kayaking. It went from a minority sport with no history to now, where the boys can hold their head high for a very established sport."

He said kayker Mike Dawson was a "cheeky young guy".

"He's one of these guys who I would say, get time in the water and you'll be a champion one day."

He said Dawson went on work experience placement in Year 11 with a kayak company in Taihape.

"He built a kayak and he was supposed to be working for them, but because the river was running next to the factory he spend most of his time actually on the river testing boats."

He put down the school's continual support of minority sports as one of the reasons so many athletes emerged from the college.

"As long as I'm having fun, and the boys are having fun . . . We just happen to be pretty successful."

"They earn everything they get, nothing comes easy."

The Bay of Plenty Times Weekend caught up with Olympian sailor Peter Burling's parents Richard and Heather Burling, who said Tauranga Boys' could not have been more supportive while their son was there.

"Peter was travelling overseas pretty intensely from about 15. He would be away for six weeks and when he came back everyone would jump through hoops to help him out," Mrs Burling said.

Mr Burling said in Peter's last year of school he was away 23 weeks out of the 40 weeks in a school year.

"They [the school] encourage people to do what they're good at - doesn't matter if it's music, art or sport. They are supportive of anyone living their dream," Mr Burling said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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