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New Zealanders Nominate Sporting Heros

New Zealanders Nominate Sporting Heros

Media release - June 4, 2004

NEW ZEALANDERS NOMINATE SPORTING HEROS

Nominations for New Zealand's unsung sporting heroes are pouring in from one end of the country to the other in a nationwide search by New Zealand Olympic team sponsor Visa.

The number and diversity of nominations to date reinforces that New Zealand is a nation of volunteers giving time, advice, resources and money to a wide range of sports.

Volunteer coaches are clearly the backbone of many New Zealand sports and this is reflected in the number of nominations received for this group of sports supporters.

Of the 28 official Olympic sports nominations in the Visa Olympic Supporters search have been received from 21 of them with athletics, swimming, rowing and hockey representing the majority of the more than 250 nominations received at the midway point of the search. A range of more minor sports including fencing, volleyball and wrestling are represented as are a number of unsung heroes of paralympian sports.

According to NZOC Secretary-general, Barry Maister, "New Zealanders are involved in almost every one of the 28 Olympic Sports. Most of these involve mainly amateur athletes, and the organisations have a hugely significant voluntary component. The Visa supporters search is a rare opportunity to acknowledge them and reward those who do so much for others."

Not unexpectedly the majority of nominations are from large cities however small towns such as Putaruru, Hokitika, Rangiora and Clevedon are also well represented.

Visa New Zealand Country Manager, Belinda Leonard, said she is delighted with the number and calibre of entries so far and believes the search has tapped into the true Olympic spirit which is shown by the many tens of thousands of New Zealand volunteers.

"Visa is pleased to be supporting the New Zealand Olympic Team through our worldwide partnership and we also wanted to reward those New Zealand volunteers who really are the unsung heroes of so many of our Olympic sports."

Nominations for the Visa search close at the end of June and a judging panel of some of New Zealand's highest achieving Olympic athletes, including New Zealand's most successful Olympic athlete Ian Ferguson and New Zealand's most capped hockey player and athlete liaison officer for the 2004 New Zealand Olympic Team, Anna Lawrence, will then select three deserving nominees each of whom will receive an all expenses paid trip to the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Games. As an additional reward, the person nominating the 'unsung hero' will also join their nominee on the trip to Athens.

Nominations can be made online by visiting http://www.visasupporters.co.nz/

Ends


Note to editors:

The combined Physical Activity Survey conducted by Sport & Recreation New Zealand for 1997/98, 1998/99 and 2000/01 shows the depth of volunteer sport support in this country:

* Over a quarter (27%) of all New Zealand adults are involved in sports in a capacity other than as a participant.

* Volunteers are most commonly involved as a parent helper (47%) followed by a coach/instructor (40%) and around 30% each are involved as a referee/other official (30%) or administrator (29%)

* 88% of adults involved in these areas work unpaid in support of their sport.

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