Building the best North athletes

By Cameron Leslie

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Ady McKenzie will have a hands-on approach when it comes to equipping the next generation of Northland athletes at part of the Northland Talent Hub. Here, she prepares Aryn Bell, 18, for a VO2 test on a treadmill. Photo/John Stone
Ady McKenzie will have a hands-on approach when it comes to equipping the next generation of Northland athletes at part of the Northland Talent Hub. Here, she prepares Aryn Bell, 18, for a VO2 test on a treadmill. Photo/John Stone

When the new Northland Talent Hub rips into gear next month, Ady McKenzie will be the person young athletes and coaches are greeted by.

McKenzie, who is a two-time Auckland marathon winner, will be using her sport and exercise science degree and skills acquired from years in running and triathlon to help equip the next generation of Northland athletes.

The Talent Hub is a partnership between High Performance Sport New Zealand, NorthTec, the Kauri Club and Sport Northland to provide support services to talented local athletes in the pre-high performance phase of their sporting pathway - which is where McKenzie comes in. Going back to when McKenzie was an age group athlete, the 37-year-old says it would have been nice to be equipped with the knowledge she'll be passing on. "I actually think it's an awareness thing and being able to balance life, you have to give up so much and be self-centred to almost be successful at top and go to those New Zealand or world championships.

"You actually have to learn to give up a little, and maybe that's one area I can is teach them how to balance [commitments] so they can still do sport but have a life as well," she said.

She noted the large drop off from age group athletes to open level, adding that she hoped to help equip a few of them with some life balance skills to progress as an athlete for longer.

Sport Northland chief executive Brent Eastwood said there is a need in Northland for a regional programme that prepares our sportspeople to become high performing athletes. "We would love to see the Northland Talent Hub enable more Northlanders to make it to the top in their chosen sport, and at the same time if this results in more of them being able to achieve that while still based in the region, that will be a bonus."

Of the 25 athletes who applied to be part of the Talent Hub, up to 15 will be selected next month. Eastwood said six Northlanders were likely to be selected as part of Sport NZ's Pathway to Podium programme which will be run alongside Sport Northland's talent hub.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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