Teams keep director on her toes
Sleep has been a precious commodity for event director Sue Clarke in the lead-up to this year's junior world track cycling championships in Invercargill.
However, it's not just the pressure of putting on a world-class event that has been keeping Clarke up at nights.
"We've been operating in two time zones, so for me, I've spent my day here and then two or three hours at home dealing with international time zones. For the majority, it's been absolutely fantastic. The federations that are here have been very responsive."
Hosting the junior world championships involves many logistical challenges, including trying to get a 1.6-tonne scoreboard into the velodrome yesterday.
Twenty-five countries will be involved in next week's event, which starts on Wednesday and runs until Sunday. They range from the Netherlands and Hong Kong, with one rider apiece, to Russia, with an 18-strong squad.
Clarke, who spent last year organising Rugby World Cup events for the Dunedin City Council, said a can-do attitude had been required to work around some of the problems caused by Invercargill's relative geographical isolation.
"Invercargill and Southland is a great place, isn't it? You always have people on the end of the phone that you can say, ‘Hey, we need a bit of a hand here', and they jump up and grab the opportunity."
Clarke has had to form a close relationship with Immigration New Zealand and Customs to try to ensure a smooth passage into the country for visiting teams. Many teams were being met in Christchurch and taken through a separate arrivals section.
Clarke has also worked closely with Air New Zealand and Mainfreight to get the riders, and more specifically their bikes, to Invercargill.
"It's big logistically, but when you chop it up into smaller groups and you all work well and communicate with each other, it all flows really."
Clarke said the event had received excellent support from a 130-strong volunteer support base and the wider community.
"A lot have taken the week off work to be here. We've also got a big medical team who are busy professionals that have taken time out of their working week. It's been great to have the profile of the Rugby World Cup last year, because everyone has gotten excited about volunteering again."
One thing Clarke has not been concerned about was whether the Stadium Southland velodrome would be up to scratch.
"We all know it's a world-class facility. That was nice, to have that surety - that it's one tick box that you don't have to be concerned with, especially with riders coming in."
Ticket sales for the 1100-seat venue were approaching 90 per cent capacity for next week's sessions, a novelty for an event that often struggles to attract crowds in other parts of the world.
- © Fairfax NZ News