Up to athletes to take path to Games

Last updated 05:00 06/08/2014

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I read with interest Glenn McLean's column (Taranaki Daily News, Monday) noting the lack of Taranaki athletes at the Commonwealth Games.

I can agree with his comments that it is disappointing to see the lack of Taranaki representation there.

The column has generated discussion on the matter and so gives Sport Taranaki the opportunity to explain its role in Taranaki sport and physical activity.

While we do work in the sports space, our focus is on participation and supporting the local regional sports organisations (RSOs) and clubs in areas they deem important for their advancement.

We are funded to work in the community sports space, not the high-performance area. Our role is to promote active participation in sport and physical recreation, be it playing, administration or volunteering in all forms.

We have a role in the health sector through our Green Prescription programe, Whanau Pakari and Energise Practice, and also the delivery of the fundamentals skills in primary schools (Skills4Life).

High performance is the responsibility of Sport New Zealand and national sporting organisations (NSOs). Sport Taranaki cannot presume to step into the high-performance space without the invitation and support of these two bodies.

The sport specifics, competitions, games and coaching advice is provided by the RSOs and NSOs training programmes.

We are involved in helping identify young athletes with promise through our Future Champions and Pathway to Podium. We help prepare the young athletes as best we can for the journey ahead.

They compete in various competitions at regional and national level under the guidance of coaches and RSOs. It is up to them to provide the opportunity for the athletes to play and compete.

Being selected to play at a higher level is up to the athletes themselves. They have to prove they have the ability, the skills and the determination to get there.

We are part of the journey for them in this case, but Sport Taranaki is not solely responsible for their success or otherwise.

We have many supportive people, be it coaches and parents who are working to get the athletes to the top. At some stage the athlete has to take responsibility to achieve the honour of wearing the silver fern.

The Commonwealth Games is a pinnacle event for New Zealanders, but is not the only international sports event Taranaki athletes are involved in.

Cory Peters, our Paralympic silver medallist at the 2014 Winter Games, is one who springs to mind. We have an Olympic Wall with the names of all the 32 Taranaki Olympic athletes who have represented the province over the years.

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We also play a huge number of other sports at top level internationally and these athletes are proudly from Taranaki. So maybe this gap in Taranaki representation at the Commonwealth Games will inspire and motivate our current and future athletes to strive for gold in Australia in 2018.

- Taranaki Daily News

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