Who will be in the money from Sparc?

BY TOBY ROBSON IN DELHI
Last updated 05:00 16/10/2010
New Zealand athletes
CHRIS SKELTON/The Dominion Post

TIME TO SAY GOODBYE: Some of the New Zealand athletes enjoy the atmosphere at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony.

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To the victors the spoils are on their way, but for Delhi flops a nervous wait has begun.

Sparc boss Peter Miskimmin yesterday singled out athletics, swimming and cycling as Commonwealth Games success stories for New Zealand's sports funding body.

And he also threw a guernsey the way of the coaches of New Zealand's team sports as he contemplated a review process that will provide some nervous times.

Miskimmin said Sparc was satisfied with the 36 medals in Delhi where six golds, 22 silvers and eight bronze bettered the efforts of four years ago in Melbourne.

"From our perspective of sports that we've been targeting to get results with funding and resources athletics, swimming and cycling were all up on where they were at four years ago.

"And I think the other important thing is that in cycling and swimming in particular there are some young kids emerging that will lead into London and beyond.

"You have to throw hockey into that too, because the quality of opposition they played was ranked higher than them and they beat them, so that bodes very well."

Miskimmin said Ruth Aitken (netball), Gordon Tietjens (sevens), and Black Sticks coaches Mark Hager (women) and Shane McLeod (men) had proven the value of investing in top coaches.

With high performance sport receiving a $10 million government injection this year, $15 million in 2011-12 and $20 million annually after that, there is more at stake then ever as the London Olympics approach.

After surveying the success of England, India and smaller nations like Singapore, Sparc was questioning whether it needed to spend more of its money on talent identification and development.

While other countries were funding athletes at a young age, New Zealand tended to fall back on parents and clubs to help them through their early high performance development, Miskimmin said.

He acknowledged bowls, boxing, wrestling and archery, with just one silver medal between them, had under-performed in Delhi, but said it was too early to make funding judgments.

"We've formed views and impressions, but you have to respect the process. They have to reflect on what went well and what didn't over there and that's in all sports.

"For some that had a disappointing campaign, they have to reflect on why that was and then get some clear light once they've packed up and come home.

"We'll sit down and look at what that might mean in terms of funding."

He stressed decisions would not be retrospective, but forward looking. "Yes, it might have been disappointing and there will be some tough calls, but really it's a sense of what do we think those athletes can produce going forward.

"It's not retrospective saying here's a reward. It's more around you are showing potential and we can see opportunities for you if given funding going forward."

That's good news for youngsters such as boxer Joseph Parker, but may be a signal for veterans such as swimmer Moss Burmester and discus thrower Beatrice Faumauina.

Swimming NZ was awarded $1.35 million to invest this year at the Commonwealth Games and work towards the Olympics and delivered in the pool with six medals.

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They came mostly from the young brigade with Burmester off the pace and similarly Faumauina flopped in the discus.

"Athletes like that, the issue of the future is up to them," Miskimming said. "When you get towards the end of your career, the decision is `do you still have the fire in the belly, the desire to be No1 and stand on the podium'."

- Stuff

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