New Zealand Olympic middle-distance runner Sam Tanner is encouraging tamariki to join their local athletics club this summer as a means of developing their "physical literacy".
The reigning national mile and 3000m champion is backing Athletics NZ's Athletics for Every Body campaign to encourage more Kiwi kids to give athletics a go – a sport that can be embraced by everyone regardless of their ability, size, shape or height.
Tanner, 21, who grew up a keen surfer while living in Pāpāmoa, insists whether it is running, jumping or throwing, all athletics disciplines offer enormous benefits.
"I would encourage young people to try athletics because it is a great opportunity to do physical activity with friends, try new things and grow your physical literacy skills," he said.
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"I first got involved in the sport because my parents took me to Pāpāmoa Athletics Club on a Wednesday night and I loved it."
Tanner has since developed into an outstanding age-group performer and represented his country in the 1500m at the 2018 World Under-20 Championships.
At 18, he won the 2019 national senior men's 1500m title and earlier this year set a huge personal best and national indoor 1500m record of 3m 34.72s.
The middle-distance talent, who also competed in the 1500m at the Tokyo Olympics, would advise any youngster taking up the sport to adopt a patient approach in pursuit of success.
It is a sport which has enriched his world.
"Athletics has given me so many things in life. The challenges I have faced have formed my character and the experiences I have had running all over the world have helped build resilience."
Athletics for Every Body is a nationwide campaign running during October and November to encourage Kiwi kids to give running, jumping or throwing a go. For more information, go to athletics.org.nz/athletics-for-every-body-campaign-launched/