2018 has been the year of the sports inquiry in New Zealand.

Cycling, netball, rowing, and women's football and hockey have all been subject to outside commissioned scrutiny for reasons mainly connected to athlete disenchantment.

The common thread through all those sports is their dreadful international achievement this year. Cycling and women's hockey sort of get a pass mark because they had gold medal success at the Commonwealth Games, but out on the real world stage they were abysmal failures.

Netball is still deep in a hole, so is women's football and now rowing has some serious questions too. The worst world championship results in nearly 20 years are not completely surprising considering the administrative turmoil of the past few months. Their High Performance manager Alan Cotter resigned only a month ago amid allegations of bullying.

It's accepted wisdom that success on the field comes if things are humming in the front office. Super Rugby champions the Crusaders are Exhibit A on that score.


But has athlete power been allowed to develop too much at the expense of on-field success?

Each of this year's investigations, or inquiries, or call them what you will, have been instigated after athlete complaints.

Administrators must work to give athletes to best possible environment for success.

Not all of them succeed. But have athletes this year worried too much about the quality and performance of their coaches and administrators instead of actually going out there and winning?

Auckland is now the top team in the Mitre 10 Premiership. Photo / File
Auckland is now the top team in the Mitre 10 Premiership. Photo / File

So Auckland is now the top team in the Mitre 10 Premiership.

You know Auckland? The home of the Blues, a city of rugby relationships so dysfunctional that the Auckland team, representing a union that owns quite a big chunk of the Blues, is not even allowed to train at the flash new multi-million dollar Blues headquarters at Alexandra Park.

So how come Auckland, which has been an also ran in the Mitre 10 Cup in recent years, is now unbeaten and in pole position to take the title? Is the new coaching combination of Alama Ieremia and Filo Tiatia hitting the spot with the preponderance of Pacific Island players?

Maybe, but I reckon the difference is a guy who's listed as an assistant coach. His name is Graham Henry. He has a fair pedigree when it comes to this rugby coaching lark. He also seems to bring success to most places he goes. He was a "technical adviser" when the Blues last won Super Rugby in 2003.

He may be on the other side of 70 but he's a winner. In professional sport, as someone once said, that's the only thing.

Is a marathon distance possible in under two hours? Photo / File
Is a marathon distance possible in under two hours? Photo / File

Once the holy grail of athletics was the four minute mile.

A May day at Oxford University in 1954 saw that one off. The eminent physiologists of the time who said it was impossible had been proved wrong.

Many a more modern scientist has said running a marathon in less than two hours is not possible either.

Yet last Sunday night, Eliud Kipchoge sprinted the 42.2km distance in 2 hours, 1 minute and 39 seconds.

The progression towards the sub 2 hour mark is quickening. The streets of Berlin – flat and smooth – are where it's likely to happen, maybe not next year but it will happen. The history of human endeavour says it will.

Next time you go to the gym and get on the treadmill, set it to 20km/h an hour. That's how fast these top marathoners run.

Unless you're really fit and fast, you'll be quickly spun off the end.