Ath­let­ics boom fol­lows the Olympics

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By MATTHEW DAL­LAS

Mana Am­a­teur Ath­let­ics Club is en­joy­ing a post-Olympic mem­ber­ship boom – but it’s on the re­ten­tion of tal­ent that coaches are fo­cus­ing.

Since the sea­son be­gan, up to 200 kids can be seen run­ning, leap­ing, laugh­ing and munch­ing on the odd sausage at club nights each Tues­day at Ad­ven­ture Park in Whitby.

Club trea­surer Joanne Thomson says they en­cour­age an in­clu­sive fam­ily at­mos­phere and cater to a lot of dif­fer­ent kids.

‘‘ Tues­day nights are about giv­ing it a go. The in­ter-club events are more com­pet­i­tive than club nights.’’

She says mem­ber­ship fluc­tu­ates a bit. They had about 160 mem­bers last year, and are presently around 200.

‘‘By the end of sea­son it will wane a lit­tle. We al­ways get a few more kids af­ter an Olympics.’’

The club also recog­nises it is too bot­tom-heavy with young­sters. Joanne’s hus­band Richard, the club cap­tain and coach, says a third of the club is aged 5 or un­der.

‘‘We would like to re­tain more of our ath­letes, try to of­fer them some­thing in the fu­ture and bring more bal­ance to the club,’’ he says.

Adult mem­bers are wel­come and Richard is in­tro­duc­ing a more in­ten­sive coach­ing pro­gramme that utilises the skills and ex­pe­ri­ence of the club’s stand­out per­form­ers; their chil­dren, triple-jumpers Scott and Anna Thomp­son. Aged 20 and 17 re­spec­tively, both are now sea­soned cam­paign­ers, in­volved in ath­let­ics since they were 5.

‘‘If the ath­letes buy into it, I think they’ll get a lot out of it,’’ Richard says.

Ath­letes will be bro­ken up into groups and re­ceive more con­cen­trated men­tor­ing than he was pre­vi­ously able to pro­vide. A fourth coach, Al­lan Tay­lor from Taranaki, will also be help­ing out, split­ting time be­tween MAAC and home.

‘‘We’re en­cour­ag­ing the kids to carry on,’’ Richard says. ‘‘In the past they’d have to go to col­leges in town [Welling­ton City] to get any coach­ing. It’s quite a new con­cept out here.’’

Visit: www.maac.welling­

High there: Ri­ley Watkin may not be achiev­ing a lot of dis­tance in his long jump at­tempts just yet, but the en­thu­si­asm is def­i­nitely there.

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