Waikato is country's high performance mecca

BEN STRANG
Last updated 05:00 09/08/2014
Sam Webster, Ethan Mitchell and Eddie Dawkins
LAWRENCE SMITH/ Fairfax NZ

GOLDEN RIDERS: Sam Webster, Ethan Mitchell and Eddie Dawkins all train in Cambridge.

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With the Commonwealth Games over, Fairfax Media takes a look at where our top athletes were came from.

Southlanders are breeding fine athletes, but Waikato is the place to live for New Zealand's top talent.

A closer look at the 45 Commonwealth Games medals that New Zealand won in Glasgow reveals some interesting information about which regions are producing athletes.

Two South Island regions are breeding the most talent per head of population, but the athletes almost always end up moving away from home, to Waikato, Auckland and Canterbury.

Born and bred Southland athletes helped win three of New Zealand's 14 gold medals in Glasgow, through cyclists Eddie Dawkins and Tom Scully, and shooter Sally Johnston.

The region's athletes won one gold for every 31,670 people living in Southland, by far the best golds-per-head-of-population figure in the country.

Southland also claimed two bronze medals, through Dawkins and Pieter Bulling, giving the region one Games medal per 19,000 residents.

That figure was second best to another South Island region, with Tasman also winning five medals, two silver and three bronze, or one medal for every 18,800 residents.

When compared to that of New Zealand's most populous region, Auckland, the figures are staggering.

Auckland-born athletes produced the most medals, as would be expected, with four gold, five silver and five bronze.

Comparing that to the population, however, gives Auckland one gold per 382,000 residents, and one medal for every 109,285 people.

Track cycling was the dominant medal winner for Southland-born athletes, which is a testament to the success of the Invercargill's indoor velodrome.

Opened in May, 2006, the velodrome has been an inspiration to the region's young cyclists, as is proved by their success on the national and international stage.

Any serious track cyclist spent several months each year honing their craft on the boards in Invercargill, up until the end of last year.

Those cyclists have now left the region, joining the centralised BikeNZ programme at the new Avantidrome in Cambridge.

The velodrome is the key to Waikato's success at the Glasgow Games, with most of the track cycling team now living and training in Cambridge.

Auckland-born duo Sam Webster (two gold, one silver) and Ethan Mitchell (one gold) both brought medals home to Cambridge, as did their team sprint team-mate, Southland-born Eddie Dawkins (one gold, one bronze).

They are the cream of the track cycling crop, and lead the Waikato-based athletes in bringing 19 medals into the region after the Games.

Looking forward to the Rio Olympics, even more of New Zealand's medal winners will reside in Waikato, with rowing based at Lake Karapiro.

Cambridge has turned into a high performance base for New Zealand athletes, and in track cycling in particular it seems to be working.

It breeds competition between athletes and sports, and also a strong culture of celebrating success when it arrives.

BikeNZ officials have openly admitted that the goal was to emulate Rowing New Zealand at Lake Karapiro, bringing new levels of competition in squad training.

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The athletes themselves are loving the centralisation, and believe it is only the beginning for the programme.

Only one sport has failed after moving to Waikato, with triathlon unable to claim a single medal in Glasgow despite high hopes.

Waikato-based athletes claimed one gold medal for every 105,000 residents, and one medal per 22,100 people.

Only Tasman had better figures, claiming one gold per 94,000 residents, but were slightly worse off with one medal for every 31,334 people.

Taranaki athletes disappointed at Glasgow, with no contribution to any medals, while Wellington was the biggest disappointment of the main centres.

Hutt Valley shooter Sally Johnston won gold, while Wellington netballers and hockey players did contribute to their team success, but that was it.

Even worse, only three Wellington-born athletes won medals in Glasgow.

- Stuff

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