Olympics success hits a hurdle

By Brendan Manning


A surge in Olympics-inspired sports registrations has failed to materialise in Wairarapa following New Zealand's slew of medals, local sporting officials say.

While Sport NZ is lauding New Zealand's success at the London Olympic and Paralympic Games with a surge of interest in grassroots sporting codes at home, Wairarapa sporting organisers have not seen the same uptake.

The New Zealand Olympic 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 New Zealand at the top of the per capita medal table, according to Statistics NZ.

Athletics Masterton president Graeme Butcher said the organisation had been "reasonably stable" this year and had not noticed any increase in registrations after the Games.

"Numbers fluctuate year to year, sometimes they're up, sometimes they're down. But there's nothing that really stands out of the ordinary and there's nothing from people saying, 'Hey, I'm coming to run or cycle because of the Olympic Games'."

Athletics Wairarapa chairwoman Jill Stringer said the club had been relatively quiet because it was in the throes of building a brand-new all-weather track.

"That's been a confounding factor. [Although] I do know that there has certainly been an upsurge in interest [post Games]."

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

"We know that seeing our sporting heroes succeed on the world stage can motivate people, young and older, to give those sports a go, and that's what we're seeing now," he said.

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

The New Zealand 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, with one Wellington club reporting membership figures in some categories up 50 per cent on the same time last year.

"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. APNZ

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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