New Zealand relay runners changing techniques to compete with the best
A standing start, a push-pass technique and don't look to the past - those are the keys to relay running success.
Ex-Commonwealth Games athlete Kerry Hill ran a regional relay clinic that focuses on teaching new techniques for a handful of athletics personnel from around the Waikato at Porritt Stadium last weekend.
Hill, who is the technical lead for the Athletics New Zealand relay programme, backs the push-pass method of baton-passing and also promoted a standing start as being crucial to success.
He also said that too many international teams are focused on copying others based on past successes.
"Everyone copied the United States because they used to get all of the golds, but why would they do that now when they're the most disqualified team in relay running?"
"The fastest team doesn't always get the medals, not if they don't have the technique that goes with it," he said.
Hill has visited 20 countries in almost as many years, observing teams' techniques and collating data to determine which were the most successful. He made graphs and charts out of his statistics to make a PowerPoint presentation that he showed to attendees.
"Everyone's accepting it because it's common sense and it shows that these countries are copying each other just for the sake of it," Hill said.
"It seems like a good idea to them, but the data is showing that it isn't."
Hill specifically mentioned the New Zealand under-20s women's team, who adopted the new methods and finished a world championship heat in the third fastest time in the world.
It didn't stand as the team were ironically disqualified for poor technique in another area, after one of the runners stood on the line and Hill said that they'd be a massive focus if that hadn't happened.
Andrew Langman, chairperson of the Cambridge Athletics Club, said the clinic was insightful.
"It was quite technical, but it was aimed more at the senior side and high performance side of things, so that's to be expected," he said.
Langman is a volunteer who teaches more than 100 3-6 year olds and said that he learned a lot at the clinic.
"Before it was a case of just trying to shove the baton in their hand and also, they've always been looking behind," he said.
"Now I can get them more into looking for a target and then aiming for that target."