Dual Olympian Heelan Tompkins has taken on the role of an Olympic ambassador at the same time as scaling down her equestrian operation.
The Oakura eventing trainer-rider is one of eight new Olympic ambassadors inducted in Auckland last week. The group has been contracted to promote the Olympic values to New Zealand youth in schools.
Joining Tompkins as inductees were Moss Burmester (swimming, Auckland), Melissa Ingram (swimming, Auckland), Sarah Cowley (athletics, Auckland), Dillon Boucher (basketball, Auckland), Pero Cameron (basketball, Wellington), Nicola Coles (rowing, Christchurch) and Aaron Orangi (bobsleigh, Christchurch).
The ambassador programme is funded by the New Zealand Community Trust.
"The target audience is mainly primary schools because research shows that around 11 or 12 is a good age to pass on the Olympic values to kids," Tompkins said.
Mingling with the other Olympians last week was enjoyable, she said.
"It was such a buzzy atmosphere and quite inspiring really."
Tompkins represented New Zealand at the Olympics in the three-day event at Athens in 2004 and again at Beijing in 2008.
She said she took up the role of an Olympic ambassador because she enjoyed engaging with school children and always wanted to get involved with the Olympic Commission.
"The programme allows me to stay in touch with people that otherwise I might have lost contact with," Tompkins said.
Her first two assignments are scheduled for September 3, when she will show pupils at Stratford Primary and Whenakura School (South Taranaki) what it's like to be an Olympian for one day.
Meanwhile, Tompkins has had up to eight or nine horses in work up to recently, but plans to cut back that number to just two in the near future.
"The business has been a bit strained for a while now and I'm having to cut down the number of horses I've got in work," she said.
Tompkins sold her No 1 horse, Up ‘N' Go, to champion New Zealand equestrian Mark Todd early this year.
"I'm going to sell up and run the two I think have the potential to go to the top."
The two horses she intends holding on to are thoroughbreds and ex-racehorses Watkins and Tindall, a newcomer to her stable.
Both are still novice horses, but have shown their trainer plenty of potential.
"They're both plain-looking horses, but I enjoy working with them.
"Watkins is probably the best jumping horse I've ever had, so I'll be able to push him up the grades this season. So hopefully he'll get me to to another Olympics."
Tompkins came across Tindall when on a horse-buying trip with the Queen's granddaughter and talented eventing rider Zara Phillips last Christmas-New Year holidays.
"He was Zara's third choice and my first. Zara's first two horses both passed their vet test so she took them and I took Tindall."
- © Fairfax NZ News