Dana Johannsen

Dana Johannsen is a NZ Herald’s chief sports reporter

Basketball: Adams mentors young Kiwi athletes

Kiwi NBA star Steven Adams has taken a break from his off-season training with the Oklohoma City Thunder to help mentor some of New Zealand's top young athletes.

Adams joined a group of All Blacks and their strength and conditioning trainer, Nic Gill, in Auckland today to share his wisdom with 10 promising young athletes selected to be part of the Powerade Breakthrough Academy.

The 10 athletes selected come from around the country and have already shown potential in their given sport. The Academy has been created to foster this potential and encourage them to achieve great things in the sporting world.

Having only just turned 21 himself, many of the young sportspeople attending the session are around the same age and in some cases even older than Adams.

The towering 2.13m centre said he finds it strange to be seen as a role model and someone young athletes look to for advice.

"It is really weird, but most of the stuff I have to share with them is not things that I thought up myself - it's stuff I picked up along the way from veterans and more experienced players that have given me their time and helped me out," said Adams.

"I constantly ask questions of the veterans, so this is all their words really, I'm just the messenger boy."

Adams, along with All Blacks Liam Messam, Aaron Smith, Julian Savea and Tawera Kerr-Barlow will run through a day-long programme of intensive physical training and classroom sessions include goal setting, training techniques and nutrition, led by Gill.

Gill said the insights Adams and the All Black group have to share help reinforce the key messages of the programme.

"Hearing messages from teachers and even coaches, sometimes they're not as powerful as hearing them from your peers or athletes you admire. It's extremely valuable for the athletes to hear what these guys are doing right now, in their sports, with their bodies and they're doing pretty good."

The Academy had more than 250 applications, which signals the high standard of young Kiwi athletes, said Tracey Evans, Marketing Manager, Stills at Coca-Cola Oceania.

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"We had a huge response and the majority of applicants were regional or national representatives in their respective sport - so to have such a large number of young athletes competing at that level signals our sporting culture is alive and well."

Adams is clearly a draw card with 71 young basketball players applying, and the next most popular sport is unsurprisingly rugby, with 54 applications.

Other represented sports ranged from athletics to swimming, but there were also some unique entries with our young people competing at a high level in archery, synchronised swimming, rodeo and even arm wrestling.

- NZ Herald

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