National sprint cycling coach Grace resigns

BikeNZ will be on the lookout for a new sprint coach after Justin Grace's resignation.

The former Masters World Champion sprinter has cited personal reasons for his decision to step down from the position, after establishing a world-class programme with a young New Zealand squad over the last five years.

Grace said the lengthy time away from his family was no longer sustainable, while he had also voiced some concerns at the effects of funding limitations on the burgeoning sprint programme.

"It's been a situation that I have been thinking about a lot since the Olympics,'' Grace said. "Since I began this role I have been away on average 200 days a year and the toll is unfair on my wife and family.

"I am very passionate about this programme and I would dearly love to continue in the role to help the sprinters stand on the podium in Rio. But the burden on the family is not fair on them and something had to give.''

BikeNZ high performance director Mark Elliott said the organisation was saddened with Grace's decision but understood his position.

"Justin has been responsible for developing the sprint programme from scratch to its current high world ranking. They are now ranked second in track priorities to the men's endurance group looking ahead to the Rio Olympics,'' Elliott said.

"Justin believed fervently that New Zealand could produce world class sprinters in this sport and has driven this programme with a single-minded and uncompromising passion.

"That approach comes with a price and we want to acknowledge his tremendous contribution and the support from his wife and family.''

Elliott said that a programme of sports science, strength and conditioning and coach support had been well established and would cater for the riders in the immediate future.

"We will look at our short term needs and how we can fill them with the squad to head to Europe later this month for training and racing but the medium term goal would ideally be for a fulltime sprint coach when the centralised programme gets underway in Cambridge next year.''


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