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Bobsleigh squad gets down to business

May 22, 2008

Bobsleigh squad gets down to business

Nine talented New Zealand athletes gather in Dunedin this weekend to get down to the serious business of forging a world class bobsleigh team.

The squad selected after a nationwide talent identification process is attending a physical testing and technical training camp at the New Zealand Academy of Sport (NZSA) South Island’s Dunedin base over 24-25 May.

Funded by the government agency Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC), the talent identification project is aimed at preparing and qualifying a bobsleigh team for competition at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

The athletes come from a variety of sporting codes including rugby, sprinting and high jump. They have already passed a rigorous set of sprint and jump tests to gain selection.

Led by NZAS South Island Co-ordinator Angus Ross, the Dunedin training camp brings the squad together for the first time to focus on physical testing and technical instruction.

The camp will test and inform the athletes on their strengths and weakness and form the basis for an ongoing training programme.

One of the aspects the athletes will be introduced to is ‘push training’– a crucial aspect of bobsleigh racing and the major role for these athletes in the sport.

“This will be a new concept for them, but we are confident the process will produce a team capable of world-class performance, given the bar was set very high for selection. Their initial testing statistics in speed measured up with top overseas bobsleigh teams, but the New Zealand athletes will need to further develop strength, size and power to be among the top echelon of world bobsleigh,” Dr Ross said.

“Fortunately strength and size are very trainable qualities and with appropriate preparation we are confident in developing a team ready to take on the world elite by 2010,” he said. “We’ll be drawing on top conditioning and coaching support to ensure success.”

SPARC has phased the investment and has set performance indicators to ensure they will be on target to perform at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.

The squad will depart the camp with a detailed ongoing training programme and will reconvene for further camps during the year in preparation for pitting themselves against the world’s best in international competitions.

The four top athletes will be selected next year for a team to go to the 2009 World Bobsleigh Championships at Lake Placid in the USA, led by incumbent bobsleigh pilot Alan Henderson, a New Zealander currently in the United Kingdom.

The athlete’s on-going development will be managed by the New Zealand Academy of Sport’s Winter Performance programme.

The High Performance programme supports several winter sports, co-ordinating and providing coaching, sports science, medical and performance support to the elite winter athletes capable of success on the world stage. Medals at the Winter Olympics are the focus.

The bobsleigh project is one of the talent identification projects that SPARC is supporting to ensure we are developing athletes for the future, looking at how to identify and transfer talent from other sports to get world-class results.

About the New Zealand Academy of Sport South Island
The Academy South Island, works in partnership with the other parts of the NZAS Network and SPARC to provide high performance support, services and advise to athletes, coaches and other personnel. The focus is on excellence - helping our top athletes achieve optimal performances.


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