New Triathlon NZ boss upbeat about future despite funding cut
Fresh off a disappointing Olympic cycle, new Triathlon New Zealand (TNZ) boss Claire Beard is confident things are on the up.
Beard, who was appointed as chief executive in February, is tasked with delivering triathlon in New Zealand in the wake of a $500,000 funding cut from High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ).
She's one of two fresh appointments, with Mark Elliott returning for a second dig as the organisation's high performance director.
Elliott, who was on deck when New Zealand won two Olympic medals between 2000-2004, started last month.
Their appointments followed a turbulent period for TNZ, with Kiwi athletes failing to fire at the Rio Olympics and HP director Graeme Maw resigning in October.
Maw and his HP environment were openly criticised by leading triathletes Ryan Sissons and Andrea Hewitt, before Olympic gold medallist Hamish Carter stepped in as interim HP director between November and March.
But Beard, who worked as TNZ's commercial director for 12 months before her appointment as chief executive, believes the new-look organisation is on the right track.
"I can't comment on behalf of Ryan and other athletes, I can't comment on an environment I wasn't exposed to," Beard said. "But what I can say is we're 100 per cent committed to being athlete and coach centric.
"Our goal is always to ensure that the performance of our athletes and coaches is at the forefront of our decision making. We've made a really big effort to open the dialogue with our athletes and coaches."
On the back of last year's Olympics, HPSNZ slashed TNZ's annual funding from $1.25 million to $725,000 for the first half of the next Olympic cycle.
As the former commercial director, Beard said she was well equipped to take TNZ towards Tokyo 2020.
"Like everything, sports change and there are ebbs and flows with funding all the time," she said. "We didn't hit our targets and that [funding cut] was our reality.
"However, we're confident we have a good way forward. Bringing a new HP director on board that we feel confident about, and reshaping the way we invest in our HP programme."
Carter implemented the framework for the new-look HP programme, while Elliott will assess it and determine how he wants to move forward, Beard said.
"For me, it's my responsibility to create financial prudency and to ensure we're working within our financial means, but also to setup an environment which equips a great team."
Beard called Elliott a "great asset", and also praised community director Anna Russell for her work the past 12 months.
"It's nice to have a full team on board, that means all of those tool kits are there to help us move forward.
"Our core goals for the next 12-18 months is to support and enable the community to be successful. And to provide development within the sector," Beard said.
In addition to her new role, Beard is a board member for New Zealand Softball and North Harbour Softball.
As part of her commercial and major events background, she also led major legacy projects in the United Kingdom, and delivered the 2013 World Softball Championships in New Zealand.
Since Elliott's first stint with TNZ, he spent two years leading the restructure of Snow Spots in New Zealand, before spending the past nine years as Cycling New Zealand's HP director.