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PM's Scholarships Help Steer Athletes to Glory

Prime Minister's Sports Scholarships Help Steer Athletes to Glory

It ' s back to University for thousands of New Zealanders this week. And while student fees are an issue for most students, top New Zealand swimmer Dean Kent ' s financial pressures have been eased by a Prime Minister ' s sports scholarship that will help him study while he trains for aquatic glory.

Kent is among 463 athletes to be awarded scholarships for the first semester under the Government initiative that supports athletes studying while pursuing sporting goals. Minister for Sport and Recreation, Trevor Mallard will congratulate recipients at certificate presentation ceremonies throughout the country.

The scheme is administered by the New Zealand Academy of Sport, the high performance division of SPARC (Sport and Recreation New Zealand). The Academy supports athletes nationwide with sports medicine, sports science, career advice and other services.

Kent, 24, has emerged as New Zealand swimmings first genuine Olympic podium prospect since Danyon Loader, with three 400m medley gold medals at World Cup short course meets in Europe earlier this year.

A Massey University business studies student, Auckland-based Kent is thrilled to be a second-time recipient of the scholarship which allows him to keep his education on track while training more than 30 hours per week.

" The scholarship certainly makes life easier ... .it ' s not easy to keep up the studies when you are training hard and strapped for cash.

But Kent says his education is important to him. " It gives me a focus away from swimming and keeps my mind active. Extending yourself mentally through studying is an advantage when you ' re competing because it helps you cope with high levels of pressure".

Academy general manager Katie Sadleir says the scholarships play an important role in helping athletes keep balance in their lives. " Increasingly we ' re finding that a balanced athlete is a better performing one".

" The Government investment in our athletes ' education is good for New Zealand too. Our top athletes are outstanding individuals. If they can bring their talent, initiative and focus to other arenas when they have finished competing, New Zealand will be better for it."

Scholarships are tailored to individual needs with the amounts dependent on the cost of study and the level at which the athlete is competing. They are available to athletes from all codes recognised by SPARC who have been identified by their national sports organisations. The majority of these athletes are also carded and have access to sports science and other services through the Academy.

Other award recipients include Manchester Commonwealth Games shot put silver medallist Valerie Adams, world rowing champions Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell, swimmer Liz van Welie, netballers Jenny-May Coffin and Jodi Te Huna and triathlete Terenzo Bozzone.

Still in her teens, Adams studies sports management and computer studies at Manukau Technical Institute. She says the scholarship will allow her to work towards a career after sport and to provide some balance. " Thinking about sport 24/7 is not healthy, you need to have other things going on in your life. "

Beyond sport, Adams has her sights set on a career helping athletes with a disability. " I ' d like to work with people who need more help and support to enjoy their sport than I do. " Among the athletes to receive scholarships in the North/Central/South Island regions are (for full details please call Jayne Harray) New Zealand Academy of Sport South Island Julianne Bray - Snowboarding Natalie Campbell - Curling Liz Van Welie - Swimmer Adine Harper - Netball Vilimaina Davu - Netball Lesley Nicol - Netball Matthew Slade - Paralympian Sprinter Hayden Shaw - Hockey Michelle Hollands - Hockey Black Sticks Haidee Tiffen - Cricket New Zealand Academy of Sport North Joanna Lawn - Triathlon Tony Sargisson - Athletics George Taamaru - Paralympics - Mark Overington - Yachting Shelley Kitchen - Squash Susie Pryde - Mountain Biking Sally Farmer - Basketball Scott Arlidge - Skate Sports Joanna, Danica and Kelly Aitken- aerobics Anthony Seuseu - Rugby League James Shortall - Tennis Leanne Baker - Tennis Leana du Plooy - Netball - New Zealand Academy of Sport Central Tamati Ellison, Ruby Union Gabrielle Gorst, Athletics Kelly Fogden, Mountain Biking Chris Lee, Badminton Sarah Powell, Paralympics Swimming Amy Liane Smith, Woman ' s Golf Natasha Buist, Fencing Hayden Corkin, Surf Life Saving/Ironman Frances King, Cricket Piki Hamahona, Hockey Black Sticks Phil Burrows, NZ mens Hockey team .

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