AUT Millennium is a world class sporting facility for both high performance and athletes and community use. Chief reporter Tracey Chatterton flew up to Auckland to check it out.

A young girl with pink goggles and a gappy smile squeals "I'm swimming' as she floats to the end of the learners' pool.

Just beyond the watching parents, broad-shouldered athletes dive into the 50-metre pool for the start of their two-hour training session.

In dives gold medallist paralympian Sophie Pascoe, followed by Bradlee Ashby - both headed for Rio.


Next in the water is our own Bobbi Gichard who just missed out on the Olympic team.
It's a rare place where an 8-year-old can watch an Olympian glide through the water as she walks to the changing room.

This is part of the magic of AUT Millennium - mixing high performance with everyday people.

Stamped above the door it states: "Be the best you can be." It's a slogan that both the facility and the people using it appear to be aiming for.

This is the home to High Performance Sport New Zealand's National Training Centre, New Zealand swimming, waterpolo, tennis, canoe and athletics.

Next door, the new National Aquatics Centre is home to North Shore Swimming Club and North Harbour Water Polo. Local triathlon and surf lifesaving clubs also use the pool alongside members of the public.

More than 500,000 people visit the facility a year, with 90per cent of them being community users.

It was the brainchild of North Shore businessmen Sir Graeme Avery and Sir Stephen Tindall, who recognised that Zealand was falling behind the rest of the world in terms of athletes winning on the world stage. The Millennium Institute of Sport & Health opened its doors in 2002. AUT University then came on board as the Institute's Tertiary Education Partner. In 2009 they joined to create AUT Millennium, a charitable trust.

Since opening, AUT Millennium has instructed more than 30,000 children in water safety a year, and introduces more than 20,000 children to athletics a year.

More than 200 Olympians have trained there along with All Blacks, Silver Ferns, Kiwis and Tall Blacks.

More than 150 high performance-carded athletes in 14 sports train here.
Pole jumper Eliza McCartney is one of them. The 19-year-old has been touted as the next big thing in athletics and a medal hope at Rio.

Her coach Jeremy McColl says her success has had a flow-on effect, with others picking it up.

"Now that they've seen Eliza's results, it's rapidly increasing."

AUT Millennium has everything he needs to coach his athletes. An indoor pole vault with cameras fitted in the gymnasium to analyse biomechanics, an outdoor vault, basic gymnastic equipment and multiple weights rooms.

With a medical centre on site, athletes can see a GP, physio or even a radiologist in the same building. An orthopaedic surgeon also calls in regularly to consult at the medical centre. It means Eliza can have physio or a massage after a training session or spend some time in the recovery pool.

As McColl states how well Eliza's preparation is going for Rio, a group of Pathway to Podium athletes warms up on the mat behind them. They twist and stretch their legs in ways that only gymnasts and dancers do. But today they're about to do a running and weights session, they do two of those a week, three pole vault sessions and gymnastics.

The bar sits dauntingly high above the pole vault mat, yet these are the heights these athletes are reaching.

On the fringes of the gymnasium sits various weights rooms. One has been fitted with cameras, one has had the temperature hiked up to prepare athletes for a warmer climate, and there's also a weightlifting-specific room.

Upstairs the equipment gets even more technical. I peek inside rooms that look like a cross between a gym and a medical lab. There's a specialist treadmill used to look at someone's gait and equipment to measure oxygen levels. This is where athletes are analysed closely. How are they moving? Which muscles are firing? How are their lungs coping? And what can be done to make them stronger and faster.

Research is not restricted to these rooms .

AUT University's Centre of Excellence in Sport, Recreation and Public Health research is also on site.

AUT professor Grant Schofield is working at a standing desk upstairs - as are students in the next room.

This is the Human Potential Centre, which connects with "actual people" rather than just athletes. Out his window, a group of school kids are seen jogging around the track.
He has tried to turn health on its head - talking about health not sickness, trying to figure how to get the most out of life.

He is well known for his work in getting children moving and encouraging schools to let go of the rules and let children play freely - including old-fashioned rough-and-tumble play.

He has reinvented the office environment in this department with bar-leaner type desks and stalls to try get people off their butts.

So on that note I go back downstairs to the smell of roasting coffee beans from the cafe.
It is a thoroughfare of mothers taking their young ones to swimming, workers grabbing a bite to eat after using the public gym, and students sitting with one eye on books and one eye on the basketball on the TV.

I chat with Craig Harrison who is head of the athlete development programme, working with young athletes aged from 8-14.

These kids pay to be part of an academy that trains three times. The academies don't specialise sport, it's more about giving the young athletes the building blocks of co-ordination, balance and strength, along with good technique to take into their chosen sports at an older age.

"If you want to do maths you need to learn how to count before you can do calculous."
And it's about keeping it fun - so children are engaged and want to progress.
"It's not elitist as there is no criteria to join. You can come into this programme and be passionate about sport and not wanting to achieve to any level but just want to get better," he says.

AUT Millennium chief executive Mike Stanley says the partnerships, behind the facility have contributed to its success.

It brought together isolated sports, recreation, education research and development - which can be done in Hawke's Bay as well.

There were nay-sayers in the beginning but the collaboration has worked well and people got on board as it grew and developed.

Graeme Avery was a key player in getting it off the ground and Mr Stanley believes he can do it again in the Bay.

"I've never met a man more energetic and visionary and committed. He's a highly intelligent man who monitors broadly societal trends and future thinking and is an early adapter of all those things and has got incredible passion for things he commits to, you're very lucky to have him in the Bay," Mr Stanley says.