Academy Southland proven on podium

These Glasgow Commonwealth Games have proved again the worth of the Academy Southland programme.

Seven members of the New Zealand team have come through the Southland system under manager Jason McKenzie.

Badminton's Anna Rankin, who was still competing at time of writing, began the two-year programme in 2006, followed by Eddie Dawkins, Tom Scully, Piet Bulling (all cycling) and Jenna MacKenzie (shooting) and, more latterly, Matt Archibald and Steph McKenzie (both cycling).

Seven athletes from the Southland programme competed in Delhi four years ago and four were involved in the London Olympics in 2012.

The mission statement for Academy Southland is to inspire the community by having more local athletes winning on the national and international stage.

Of those who have finished their competitions in Glasgow, Dawkins won gold in the team sprint and bronze in the sprint, Scully won gold in the 40km points race, Bulling won bronze as part of the team pursuit and Matt Archibald won bronze in the kilo.

"What I am hearing is that all the people of Southland are extremely proud and get very involved and excited in these athletes' success," Jason McKenzie said.

Academy Southland's vision is to ensure "promising and talented Southland athletes [are] nurtured in a quality performance environment developing their sporting talent and achieving excellence in sport".

McKenzie said the programme's success was based around putting high-calibre people with expertise in areas such as nutrition, mental skills, athletic life and medicine around the athletes.

"The level of support they provide for our developing athletes is not seen in other parts of New Zealand. The programme, actually Southland, has supported these athletes and boosted them onto the world stage," McKenzie said.

The Southland Times