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NZ Bobsleigh squad off to Canada

September 4, 2008

NZ Bobsleigh squad off to Canada

The New Zealand bobsleigh squad is gathering in Auckland this weekend to prepare for its first training session on an international bobsleigh training track in Canada next week.

Having learnt the basics of the bobsleigh “push” on land, they will they experience the real thing at the “Ice House” bobsleigh training track in Calgary, under the guidance of internationally renowned bobsleigh coach Gerd Grimme.

The group departs on Sunday night for a week’s training and preparation, refining their preparations and push on a race sled on ice, aiming to be competition-ready at the end of the camp.

But first, the seven New Zealand athletes meet the Millennium Centre in Albany this weekend to test their fitness and progress in readiness for Calgary. They will also continue push development and testing.

This will be the athletes’ final session in New Zealand with the German coach, who says the campaign is progressing favourably as it aims for competition at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. “They have responded well to the training and to the standards we’ve set for them so far; I’m looking forward to testing them on the ice.”

“We remain serious about our potential to rank in the top 10 in the world,” Grimme added.

Having set themselves world class standards by attracting top New Zealand rugby, sprinting and high jump athletes, and by securing a top coach, the Academy of Sport South Island is also now acquiring a world class bobsleigh to New Zealand to give team every possible chance of success.

New Zealand doesn’t currently have a international standard bobsleigh for training or competition.

The Academy is in the process of securing sponsors to fund the purchase, the cost being underwritten by a private investor.

The bobsleigh squad was selected earlier in the year after a nationwide talent identification process funded by the government agency Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC).
It 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.

The practical testing sessions on Saturday (Sept 6) for the bobsleigh squad start at 9.15am with a second session at 4pm at the Millennium Centre in Albany, North Shore. Please contact Gerd Grime 021-175-7088 for more detail.

The seven athletes going 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).

About Gerd Grimme
A coach of two world champion bobsleigh teams, Grimme has directed and coached some of the world’s top bobsleigh teams in Canada and Europe. He was High Performance Director and Head Coach of Men’s Bobsleigh with Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton, and has coached and directed bobsleigh for the Netherlands, Norway and Germany. Fifty-year-old Grimme will alternate his time between here and Germany over the next year.

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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