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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Looking forward

I am so excited about the opportunities coming up for New Zealand High Performance Orienteering over the next 18 months! The climax of which will be the World Cups and Oceania Champs in Tasmania in January 2015.

High Performance sport is about creating pathways to success, and  supporting athletes progression along this path. The first of these can be thougth of as the physical opportunities, whether championship events, technical/physical camps, representative opportunities or local training and events. The second is ensuring these opportunities are harnessed and lead to improved individual performance.

Lets be clear - While anyone can plan an event, or organise a camp, it is primarily the athlete that determines whether they use this opportunity to their advantage. Others can help by role modelling, passing on knowledge, being good training partners, but it is the athletes intelligence, courage and willingness to learn that determines their level of success.

Pathways contain stepping stones, some more challenging than others
I hope that some of what we have done recently, has re-affirmed part of the pathway to success in New Zealand orienteering and I know that evaluating this pathway and filling in any gaps is a task NZOF hope to look at in the next year.

From the Schools level (and what great work has been done there in recent years), athletes progress to the Development Squad. These are crucuial years as often top high school athletes play many sports, and we want them (you!) to choose orienteering to excel at as an elite athlete. The DSquad usually have camps at least annually which are coached by experienced orienteers. This years is happening in the Castle Hill Basin from the 8th - 13th of December.

At this age, athletes start competing in the Super Series at least at the junior level, and then also at JWOC. The tight, demanding Super Series that we are running this year through the regional championship will challenge all athletes.  While next years JWOC team has the potential to be our best ever.

World - don't think that this was a one-off

As athletes progress into elites they enter the National Squad, local opportunities for the National Squad have generally been more low key, but again this year we are running a High Performance Camp for these athletes. Hopefully this can become a regular fixture. Elite races continue through the Super Series, to then Sprint the Bay, Nationals and beyond to Australia and  Europe for those with international goals.

Our athletes in Europe have traditionally been focused on WOC, but perhaps this has been a missed opportunity. There are so many high level races that could be used as goals and more realistic stepping stones. The change to WOC rules, will lead to a greater focus on sprints and relays for New Zealand and perhaps provide more opportunity for the younger athletes coming through. Athletes focusing on the longer disciplines may be more inclined to dedicate a European summer to race practice.

And then next summer the best in the world are coming down under again.  Down into much more neutral territory. What an opportunity. Will we be there with our team.? Will we have contributed what we can to their intrinsic motivation and skills? You bet. 
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