Surge in grassroots sport

By Brendan Manning


 An esteemed Northland sailing coach says New Zealand's success at the London Olympic and Paralympic Games has driven a surge of interest in local grassroots sports.

Northland sailing coach Derry Godbert said the Kiwi medallists' efforts had had a dramatic effect on yachting with many new recruits joining the sport.

"The Kerikeri ticker-tape parade with Blair [Tuke] and Peter [Burling] and Andrew [Murdoch] was amazing," Mr Godbert said.

"At the end of it I was in the crowd and at least three young sailors came up and said, 'I want to go to the Olympics sometime' and two of them really with intent. They may never get there but they certainly had the intent."

Mr Godbert had coached all three sailors during their careers.

Burling and Tuke won a silver medal for New Zealand for sailing in the men's 49er discipline and club mate Andrew Murdoch finished fifth in the lasers.

The Olympic effect was evident in Northland.

"We've now got 15 girls in a sailing squad in Kerikeri High School, that's a jump from two," Mr Godbert said.

"It's not all due to the Olympics but it's been a big impetus."

Sport NZ said New Zealand's success in the London Olympic and Paralympic Games has driven a surge of interest in sports codes at home.

The NZ team took home 13 medals at the 2012 London Olympics, six gold, two silver and five bronze.

Our Paralympics' haul of 17 medals (six gold, seven silver and four bronze) further ignited the sporting spirit and placed us at the top of the per capita medal table, according to Statistics NZ.

Sport NZ chief executive Peter Miskimmin said many sports were anecdotally reporting an increase in numbers in the aftermath of the Games, including athletics, rowing, cycling, canoeing and yachting.

"We saw a surge in football interest after the 2010 World Cup and the same thing happened with Rugby in 2011," he said.

The NZ Rugby Union recorded a 3 per cent rise in rugby registrations in the year following the All Blacks' 2011 Rugby World Cup victory.

Mr Miskimmin said the same thing was happening in athletics.

"It seems too that Lisa Carrington's gold medal has inspired lots of young people to try canoe racing, just as Ian Fergusson and Paul MacDonald did in their time," Mr Miskimmin said.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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