Hawke's Bay Youth Olympian Aimee Fisher knows all about highs and lows in the big time.
So the kayaker, who this month was named age-group competitor of the year at Canoe Racing New Zealand's national championships in Rotorua, was the perfect choice for one of the guest speaker roles at Monday night's function in Napier for the launch of the 2013 Hawke's Bay Secondary Schools High Performance Academy.
A previous academy member, Fisher gave an inspirational account of her experiences at last month's Youth Olympics in Sydney.
While she collected two silver medals with Canterbury's Lucy Johnson in the K2 200m and 500m finals, Fisher finished fourth in her favourite event, the K1 200m, after her boat collected weed which made it difficult to paddle.
"I was gutted but I never gave up," Fisher recalled.
"You will have setbacks but keep at it and you will achieve your goals," she told the latest intake of the Gen-i-sponsored Sport Hawke's Bay-organised academy.
She also stressed the importance of making the most of the opportunities being a member of the academy provided. Fisher pointed out the networking opportunities and access to a rowing machine were among her highlights while with the academy.
Hawke's Bay United soccer captain Bill Robertson was the other guest speaker. He recalled his days as a young player in Manchester: "I wasn't quite good enough for the top leagues in the United Kingdom but I didn't give up ... there were still career opportunities for me."
Robertson, a rugged, no-nonsense defender, said those opportunities took him to Australia, then to Hawke's Bay. He said he looked forward to a career option as a coach.
Sport Hawke's Bay chief executive Colin Stone said it was an honour and privilege to be part of the academy, after paying tribute to the partnership with Gen-i and also Sport New Zealand.
"It is becoming more and more prestigious to be part of the academy," Stone said.
The members of the 2013 Hawke's Bay Secondary Schools High Performance Academy are:
Aaliyah Ah Kiong (Hastings Girls' High School) Basketball, Tori Anderson (Taradale High School) Hockey, Tiwana Aranui (Napier Boys' High School) Softball, Devon Beckman (Napier Boys' High School) Orienteering, Matthew Bird (Hastings Boys' High School) Basketball, Manaia Canterbury (Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Ara Hou) Waka Ama, Josh Dewar (Napier Boys' High School) Equestrian, Mason Emerson (Lindisfarne College) Rugby & Athletics, Vida Fox (Napier Girls' High School) Orienteering, Courtney Gettins (Iona College) Softball, Regan Gough (Central Hawke's Bay College) Cycling, Callum Herries (Napier Boys' High School) Orienteering, Melanie Hesseling (Napier Girls' High School) SEF Air Pistol, Emma Houkamau (Napier Girls' High School) Softball, Brad Managhan (Napier Boys' High School) Volleyball, Brianna Massie (Napier Girls' High School) Orienteering, Luke McKenna (Napier Boys' High School) Rugby, Jo-Mari Meyer (Woodford House) Swimming, Jesse Pearson (St John's College) Kyokushin Karate, Dean Stafford (Napier Boys' High School) Athletics, Simon Stallard (Lindisfarne College) Futsal & Soccer, Catherine Stoney (Taradale High School) Hockey, Faalua Tuala (Tamatea High School) Rugby & Athletics, Mitchell Webber (Havelock North High School) Futsal & Soccer, Courtney Willis (Hastings Girls' High School) Netball, Amy and Emma Wiltshire (Woodford House) Equestrian.