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Future Bobsleigh squad selected

Media release from the New Zealand Academy of Sport – South Island
April 30, 2008

Future Bobsleigh squad selected

Nine top New Zealand athletes will attend a training camp at the New Zealand Academy of Sport South Island’s (ASI) Dunedin base, to prepare a national bobsleigh team for competition at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Trials for a talent identification project across New Zealand, funded by the government agency Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC), recently identified some of the nation’s strongest and fastest male athletes to form the new bobsleigh team.

Although somewhat of a novel concept for New Zealand, the country has the potential to excel in bobsleigh, given its resourcefulness and the calibre of its athletes.

SPARC and the ASI are taking an innovative approach to creating world-class success in wintersports. The high profile nationwide search in April ensured selectors could access the biggest pool of athletes displaying both strength and commitment, who can then make the most of the training environment to develop athletes that can foot it with the world’s best.

Co-ordinator and three-time Olympian Dr Angus Ross said initial performances at the open trials over the last fortnight already measure up with top overseas bobsleigh teams.

“The initial results are extremely promising and compare well with the data we have on the top overseas teams, although of-course there is a lot of training to be done between now and Vancouver Olympics for that potential to be realised.”

The development and growth of bobsleigh complements the focus on winter sport development in New Zealand, with performances going from strength to strength. Snowsport and skeleton teams and individuals this year won medals and gained world rankings in international competition, thanks to a focused approach in winter sports programme, with good investment and a commitment to coaching and performance technology.

Forty one athletes fronted up for the bobsleigh trials across New Zealand, and a further two tested overseas. Athlete performances were ranked on their 30m time, jumps performance and bodyweight, with selection very tightly contested over the top 12.

The standards for selection were set very high; in fact one candidate commented to Dr Ross he probably had a better chance of seeking an All Black trial, after seeing some of the “name” athletes that were trying out.

Following discussion with German bobsleigh coach Gerd Grimme and incumbent bobsleigh pilot Alan Henderson, a New Zealander currently in the United Kingdom, it was decided to invite the top nine rather than eight to the training camp in Dunedin on May 24 & 25, as only one point separated top calibre performances in 8th and 9th place.

Four of these athletes will then be selected next year for a team to go to the 2009 World Bobsleigh Championships at Lake Placid in the USA.
Discussions are currently being held to ascertain the availability of one of the nine potential bobsleigh athletes, an Air New Zealand Cup rugby player. The other eight athlete selected for the training camp are:

Tom Davie (22) – NZ junior long and triple jump record holder (Otago based).
Chris Donaldson (32) – 2 x Olympian in athletics, 2nd fastest kiwi ever over 100m, and NZ record holder over 200m (Otago based).
Willie Trew (27) – Rugby winger and Sprinter in athletics. (Otago based).
Mike King (25) – Rugby and Surf lifesaving background, (Gisborne based).
Mark Keddell (33) – Atlanta Olympian in 200m, NZ junior record holder over 200m, making a comeback after debilitating back injury in the 1990’s, No. 2 on NZ all time 200m rankings (Auckland based).
Sam Higgie (26) – Former NZ 400m champion (Auckland based).
Don McDonald (31) – Former NZ representative at world champs in 4x 100m, No. 3 on NZ all-time 100m rankings (Auckland based).
Carl Condliffe (26) – Former NZ national high jump champion (Wellington based).


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