HPNZ boss optimistic ahead of Glasgow Games

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 05:00 12/07/2014
Alex Baumann
Photosport
MONEY MAN: High Performance Sport New Zealand boss Alex Baumann wants more bang for its funding buck and more Commonwealth Games medals than the 36 won in Delhi.

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There's a role and a purpose for the Commonwealth Games.

High Performance Sport New Zealand chief executive Alex Baumann isn't so bold as to label medal targets for Glasgow.

''We want to see a better result than in Delhi where we had 36 medals, and I think we are on track to do that. But we won't be forecasting a specific number because the Commonwealth Games are quite different to the Olympics, because you never know who's going to show up,'' says Baumann who is in his third year in the role.

Targets are used to judge success or failure at Olympic games, but this campaign has an eye on the future.

At last count, Baumann had New Zealand's Games team at 233, some of whom will filter into the athletes' village next week as the July 23 opening ceremony draws closer.

Baumann is also heading to Scotland next week to ensure HPSNZ funding is well spent and to identify young talent on track for the big prize - the 2016 and 2020 Olympics.

''We have some great up and coming athletes who may not necessarily be podium potential in 2016 but maybe 2020. It's important they have this exposure. I'll be looking pretty carefully at what we have coming through the system because from my perspective we don't want to fall off the cliff after 2016.''

There were 22 silvers and six golds in Delhi four-years ago, with shot putter Valerie Adams the banker to repeat her gold, and the rugby sevens and netball teams a good chance of doing the same.

Baumann expects a steady medal supply from cycling, athletics and swimming, but again there's a note of caution around the strength or weakness of the opposition.

HPSNZ threw varying amounts at the Games sports at the start of this year. The six 'targeted' high performance sports were cycling ($4.3 million), athletics ($2.05m), triathlon ($1.4m), hockey women ($1.3m), sevens ($1.2m) and netball ($1.2m).

Others received special 'campaign' funding, including swimming ($1.5m), hockey men ($1m), bowls ($280,000), squash ($275,000), boxing ($119,000), shooting ($81,000) and weightlifting ($64,000).

''We do support campaign sports which we hope to see some medals out of.''

Diving, table tennis, judo and gymnastics received no HPSNZ funding under the criteria which demands potential to finish on the podium at an Olympics or world championships. Standout performances from any of those in Glasgow would see a funding review.

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Baumann says the team size is about right and believes qualifying criteria, in most instances a potential top-six finish, is challenging enough.

The relevance of the Commonwealth Games continues to be questioned and Baumann is well aware it needs to remain strong.

He says Delhi was down on quality, but Glasgow then Gold Coast in 2018 will draw stronger fields and more world class athletes.

The former Canadian swimming star knows the value of the Commonwealth Games more than most.

He burst to prominence with double gold in the 200m and 400m medley at Brisbane in 1982 and repeated that feat at the Los Angeles Olympics two-years later. He added three more golds at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games in 1986.

''From a New Zealand point of view it's still a very important competition. My experience as a swimmer a long time ago, the Commonwealth Games was a critical event for me because it really prepared me for the Olympic Games.

''It's not often you have these multisport events where you feel some kind of pressure and have to live in an athletes village. There's certainly a role and a purpose for the Commonwealth Games; in Glasgow and the Gold Coast hopefully the competition will improve and more countries will be sending their top athletes.''

HPSNZ will also trial a 'performance centre', or preparation and recovery area, in the Glasgow athletes' village with a view to Rio in two-years' time.

It's the first time the New Zealand team will have such a dedicated area which will be run by nutritionist Jeni Pearce and doctor Bruce Hamilton.

AT A GLANCE

New Zealand's recent Commonwealth Games hauls:

2010 (Delhi): 191 competitors, 36 medals (six gold, 22 silver, eight bronze) - 11th on medal table.

2006 (Melbourne): 249 competitors, 31 medals (six gold, 12 silver, 13 bronze) - 9th on medal table.

2002 (Manchester): 200 competitors, 45 medals (11 gold, 13 silver, 21 bronze) - 5th on medal table.

- The Dominion Post

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