Focused on the athletes of the future
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.’’