Four of Southland's stars of the future have been named in the Pathway to Podium programme.
Cyclists Bradly Knipe, Hamish Beadle, Tom Sexton and young athletics talent Atipa Mabonga have all been named in the nationwide talent development programme; a programme funded by Sport New Zealand and High Performance Sport New Zealand and designed to better prepare athletes to enter the high performance sporting environment.
The athletes will receive support in mental skills, athlete life, sports psychology, nutrition and strength and conditioning, as well as a bundle of services specifically tailored to them, all delivered locally by Academy Southland providers.
Academy Southland programme manager Jason McKenzie said it was fantastic to see so many young Southlanders acknowledged at a national level.
"The athletes involved have all been selected by their National Sports Organisations, so it shows a high level of belief in their potential at that level which is great to see," he said.
"Those links with the national sporting bodies are already there and there's a clear pathway for their development as athletes."
"Through Academy Southland we have already been working with these athletes and in many cases they're already reaping the benefits of additional support. Now that they are part of Pathway to Podium it also allows us to cater for at least one other athlete within the Academy Southland programme as well."
Rising athletics talent Emma Hopcroft has been added to Academy Southland.
While the services delivered through Pathway to Podium closely match those within the Academy Southland programme, the main difference between the two is that athletes in Pathway to Podium are identified by National Sports Organisations, while athletes in Academy Southland are nominated locally.
"They are similar programmes, and I think that really confirms that what we're doing with Academy Southland – and what we've been doing since 2005 – is working," McKenzie said.
"We're giving these young athletes a really good grounding that puts them in great stead as they go through the ranks, whatever sport they are involved with."
Article and photos courtesy The Southland Times