Fo­cused on the ath­letes of the fu­ture

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

Alas­tair Les­lie is un­likely to go to Rio but he hopes to help some young Kiwi ath­letes take the Olympic jour­ney.

The Tawa-based ath­let­ics coach, whose spe­cial­ity is in mid­dle dis­tance, has been named a coach in Ath­let­ics New Zealand’s Rio Squad pro­gramme, where fu­ture stars are iden­ti­fied and trained for the next Olympic Games.

The gym owner says coach­ing has al­ways been his pas­sion and the time is right to de­vote more time to it.

‘‘Ath­let­ics New Zealand is be­ing very proac­tive and putting a high-level strat­egy in place, whereas it used to be a bit high and miss.

‘‘What we want to do is get those young stars – who are at pri­mary, in­ter­me­di­ate and sec­ondary school now – and re­ally progress them through to the high­per­for­mance stage. They’re get­ting sys­tems in place for the next gen­er­a­tion of ath­letes. There is a wave com­ing through.’’

Les­lie says the likes of Ari­ana Harper and Su­san- nah Lynch, who he coaches and were first and sec­ond in the re­cent Welling­ton road run­ning champs, are among those who can take the step up. Welling­ton’s win of the in­ter­provin­cial atheltics ti­tle at Easter shows the tal­ent in this re­gion.

Run­ners from Olympic Har­ri­ers and track and field ath­letes from Ti­tahi Bay Am­a­teur Ath­let­ics Club are prom­i­nent among the squad.

Les­lie says it is im­por­tant not to stand on toes when it comes to train­ing ath­letes al­ready tied up with clubs and their school teams. His role is to pro­vide ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion and tech­ni­cal ad­vice.

‘‘I’m here to help take the pres­sure off. It’s im­por­tant to re­alise that once you get past that sec­ondary school level, so many ath­letes can be lost to the sport.’’

While he has a group train­ing with him now, in­clud­ing at Tawa Col­lege who have been very sup­port­ive, Les­lie is al­ways on the look­out for up-and-com­ers.

‘‘It’s very ex­cit­ing times. This is the start. I’m de­vot­ing at least the next four years to pro­duc­ing cham­pi­ons for Rio.’’

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