Northern Advocate sports editor Cameron Leslie talks with top former marathoner and triathlete Ady McKenzie about her role co-ordinating the new Northland Talent Hub.
Ady McKenzie PERCHED off to the side of Kensington Park is where Ady McKenzie gets to work - equipping the next generation of sports people with the tools needed to succeed.
You can tell the 37-year-old mum, and wife, is passionate about what she does, excitedly explaining what she's doing as she secures an oxygen mask to a student in NorthTec's VO2 testing facility. Something she'll be doing a lot in a month's time.
The former marathon runner and triathlete will co-ordinate a new Northland Talent Hub - set up by Sport Northland and Sport New Zealand - and hopes to find someone of a similar background that she can take under her wing.
"If I can help them to get to that next level I'd be rapt. I do know some of the runners who have applied, whether they get in or not, and I know one of the triathletes," McKenzie said.
Looking at McKenzie's pedigree, there's no doubting the Whangarei athlete could help Northlanders make it to the next level.
Having trained with and come through the triathlon scene at the same time as the likes of Olympians Kris Gemmell and Bevan Docherty she knows what she's talking about. However, McKenzie veered away from competing in order to study sports and exercise science, something she doesn't regret.
"I actually really enjoy where I'm at. I do still look at the events Bevan and the boys are doing and I do get envious at times, I'm like 'oh man, I wish I was still doing that', or Sam Warriner.
"But, I went back to my passion of running and I was doing all right with it. So, now, I'm still running but at a laid back level," McKenzie said.
The former Whangarei Heads Primary School and Pompallier Catholic College student will be drawing from her experiences alongside the likes of Docherty and Gemmell to educate Northland's talented sports people.
"I was really lucky, I came through in the years that Triathlon New Zealand put together an academy similar to the Northland Talent Hub. I was right in those great years, and they've gone on to great things.
"But I went off and did my degree and that's where I went to Ironman. Admittedly I wasn't from a swimming background, so when the sport changed into a drafting sport of course me not being from a swimming background meant it was my big step backwards.
"It was either I gave up on everything and focused on my swimming or I had a career pathway of heading into this type of role of tutoring."
McKenzie says that back when she was an age-group athlete it would have been nice to be equipped with the knowledge she'll be passing on.
"I actually think it's an awareness thing and being able to balance life. You have to give up so much and be self-centred to almost be successful at the top and go to those New Zealand or World Championships.
"You actually have to learn to give up a little, and maybe one area I can teach them is how to balance commitments so they can still do sport but have a life as well.
"Some athletes, or students, go straight into it and then drop off, so hopefully this will help keep them in it for longer and have a balance between life and sport."
Now working for NorthTec, this bubbly mum is in a perfect position to give back to sport after having been given so much from it.
After having won numerous titles nationally and internationally, the majority of running around McKenzie will be doing from now on will be after her students and 2-year-old Charlee.
Northland's inaugural intake into the Northland Talent Hub will be in May when the programme launches.