Will McCully's meeting achieve anything?

TREVOR MCKEWEN
Last updated 05:00 19/08/2012
Murray McCully
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ
MURRAY MCCULLY: Minister of Sport.

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Track & Field

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OPINION: So the Minister for Sport has summoned representatives from the Valerie Adams camp and the New Zealand Olympic Committee to his Beehive office so he can get to the bottom of what happened in London.

Two reactions immediately surface.

Good luck.

And here's another cynical politician at work.

Only Murray McCully has proven himself to be a different beast, at least when it comes to sport.

That's why it will be intriguing to see what emerges from this week's meeting.

Will it be political posturing and grandstanding? More excuse-making? Or meaningful changes? And if so, why and what to?

The NZOC is struggling to conceal its annoyance that it has been summoned to the headmaster's office. These are matters that should be dealt with internally, they say. No need to involve the minister.

Now McCully has got himself involved. Normally most of us would, at best, sigh at the prospect.

But McCully has an interesting track history around elite athletes.

He has intervened on matters around Adams before. When she wanted to run her own high performance programme after moving on from previous coach Kirsten Hellier, Athletics NZ resisted. McCully pulled them into line and a gold medal in Beijing resulted.

When controversial kayaker Ben Fouhy was warring with his national sports organisation, McCully also intervened, determined to keep the world champion at the peak of his sport.

The minister seems to have a view that elite athletes in certain individual sports are best placed to map out their own programmes and that too often officials get in the way.

It didn't entirely work out with Fouhy but McCully should not let that deter his overall approach.

Frankly, and now that further details have emerged relating to accommodation requests and uniform sizing, questions do need to be asked about how poorly Adams was handled by the NZOC in the lead-up to and during her stay in London.

It would be difficult to imagine the Jamaican Olympic Committee treating Usain Bolt with similar indifference. In pointing the finger at the sports organisation mostly responsible for Adams in Athletics NZ, the NZOC merely highlights the obvious problem McCully needs to deal with.

Too many of our national sports organisations are poorly governed and neither Sport New Zealand, formerly Sparc, nor the NZOC are doing enough about it.

That poor governance too often manifests itself through sloppy and self-important officialdom who hinder high performance athletes.

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We've seen it already this year with the flawed handling of the promising Jacko Gill, the Olympic shooting selection fiasco and the poor overall performance of the New Zealand swimming squad whose national organisation has been in disarray.

Lauren Boyle, with her fourth place in the 800m freestyle final, was the one exception among the swimmers.

Is it any coincidence she came to the Games via the American collegiate system?

Maybe now she's returning to New Zealand, she should be seeking a meeting with the minister as well.

- Trevor McKewen is managing editor, sport, for Fairfax Media.

- Sunday Star Times

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