Tauranga's world-class decathlete Brent Newdick is refusing to let a funding crisis stop him qualifying for next year's Rio Olympics.
Injuries have curtailed Newdick's career over the past two years but Athletics New Zealand's decision to cut all funding came as a shock to the 30-year-old, who finished 12th at the London Olympics and won silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in the most demanding of all events.
"They said because I didn't do anything in the last year due to injury, there is no funding at all, even though I am probably one of only 10 athletes that have a chance realistically of making the team next year," Newdick said. "But they are saying I am nowhere near that."
Newdick was injured after the London Olympics and took 18 months to come right after the original injury was misdiagnosed. Once back to full fitness, Newdick competed at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow but suffered a freak injury during the high jump competition.
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"The first few events were really good, then unfortunately I ripped a tendon off the back of my heal in the high jump. If I had finished that competition there would have been no problem with funding. It is annoying, as I know I will qualify for the Olympics this year but if I had funding to get the right training and eat the right food, that is the difference for me getting 12th again or even coming top three.
"I am right now 100 per cent in the direct peak of a decathlete's age."
Athletics New Zealand high performance director, Scott Goodman, is sympathetic to Newdick's plight but with limited funds available, says they have to make tough decision on athletes every six months. "I have said to Brent if he gets to a level around 7800 or 7900 points then we would be in a position where we could still support him," Goodman said. "At the moment he is not performing at that level for us to allocate funding for his campaign at this stage.
"The Olympic qualifying level is 8100 points and that is still a long way off. If he can get back into the level he was at leading into London it wouldn't be a problem."
Newdick's luck finally did change this year from the most unlikely source. He won the national gumboot throwing competition and Skellerup and NZ Rural Games sent him to compete in Europe, which ironically allowed him to get some high quality, outdoor summer training.
Newdick is back home in Tauranga for a short stay next month. He says he has much to thank Rob Leslie and the old boys' association of Tauranga Boys' College, plus Ingham Mora, for raising money to keep him going.