A Commonwealth Games Federation initiative to acknowledge outstanding sports achievers could have a beneficial spinoff for some New Zealand sports on the Gold Coast next April.

For the first time, Games teams will be chosen using a quota system, limiting the number of athletes any country can send. It has been brought in by the CGF to try to put a ceiling on numbers of athletes and support staff, which were mushrooming out of proportion.

But that has meant nervous times for sports who are limited to how many individual spots they have for the competition which runs from April 4-15.

The CGF is expected to introduce a gold ticket system to give certain prominent athletes a pass into the Gold Coast.


But it's understood to be only for those who have achieved a high standard of performance, such as Olympic or Commonwealth champions, and doesn't allow for places for athletes in all sports.

New Zealand Olympic Committee chief Kereyn Smith is in Sri Lanka at a CGF meeting and is hoping to get clarification on the plan.

"We need to determine if it is occurring and how many," she said.

"My understanding is it's quite a limited number and only in blue riband events."

Take athletics. They have a quota limit of 19 athletes. The prevailing view is that's quite a tight fit, considering the number of athletes expected to produce qualifying standard performances.

If, say, two of New Zealand's finest athletes, perhaps two-time Olympic 1500m medallist Nick Willis and world champion shot putter Tom Walsh, were to receive the invitations, it would give Athletics New Zealand (ANZ) a bit of wriggle room on getting more people into the team.

Should two athletes receive gold passes "we would effectively be picking 21", ANZ selection boss Graham Seatter said.

"Two would have been chosen for us and then we pick 19, without needing to pick those two, so it's a bit of a positive in that regard."

ANZ are preparing to work up a pecking order among those who do qualify for the Gold Coast. Not only does it involve rating, for example, a javelin thrower against an 800m runner, but also needs to take into account the calibre of events in the Commonwealth.

"We've got to make sure we use appropriate criteria for that ranking order," said Seatter, a former Games walker and New Zealand Football chief executive.

"We would rather say 'these are the deserving ones' and don't think of the total number until you finish the exercise. Now we've got to think of the total number at the beginning of the exercise."

And there's another issue. Some sports are strong in the Commonwealth, others relatively weak. That could affect the ranking list.

Take for example a sprinter. If you're not either in the Olympic 100m final, or on the edge of it - bearing in mind the NZOC have a policy that athletes must be capable of finishing in the top six - you may miss out.

Equally, someone who might be a less talented athlete but is in a sport where the overall quality is low could be rated higher up the list.