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Govt support for high performance sport centres

The Government will fund three high performance sport centres as part of its plans to support excellence in sport.

The centres will build on existing establishments and be based in Dunedin, Wellington, and Auckland.

Sport, Fitness and Leisure Minister Trevor Mallard said the Government was giving $16 million for high performance sport for the next four-year Olympic cycle. Most of it will be targeted towards the centres. The interest from the $16 million will also be added to the total.

"Like it did in many other areas, the previous Government did not set aside funding for high performance sport beyond June this year. Before then, their commitment was about $3 million per annum but there was always uncertainty about whether it would continue.

"The sports sector found it difficult to plan and to attract expert staff to jobs which had a blurred future.

"What today's announcement does is increase the funding, provide more certainty for planning, and use the resources more effectively to benefit more of our top athletes.

"It will provide them with an optimal training environment – with top facilities, equipment, medical support, sports science and nutrition as well as help with career development.

"We estimate that the number of high performance athletes who access Government funded services will increase from about 650 to 1500. This is possible through the funding increase as well as the increased efficiency.

"It will also help athletes and coaches define career pathways and it will open up the academy opportunity to talented athletes from a much wide range of sport instead of limiting it to 18 as is the current situation.

"New Zealanders love sport and when our top athletes are performing well it boosts our national pride.

"Tomorrow, the Prime Minister is releasing details of an arts and culture package. Together with this announcement, the Government is showing that it is prepared to support initiatives that help develop national pride and identity.

"New Zealand is still some way off the funding commitments that the Australian Government provides its elite athletes. Their sporting success has improved as a result of their commitment to targeted and long-term support for high performance sport through a network of centres. In this country, we see today's announcement as moving in that direction and a vast improvement on what the previous Government was prepared to invest."

Trevor Mallard said more sport initiatives would be announced in the Budget.

ends

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