Nelson sprinter Bailey Cotton has recently returned from a training camp in Qatar where he had access to a $2 billion sports facility.
Bailey was one of seven Kiwi sprinters selected to attend Aspire Academy, the biggest sports academy in the world, for a two-week training camp.
“It was unreal, you could smell the money, it is a very rich place, flash everything.”
The 19-year-old says the facility was a far cry from what he is accustomed to, where anyone can rock up at anytime with their dog for a quick jog around the track.
“There were security guards at every entrance and you needed a special pass just to get past the gate.”
The former Nayland College student had the opportunity to rub shoulders with world class coaches and use world leading training technology, including a $1 million treadmill.
The camp culminated in a competition, where Bailey put his speed to the test against some of the best young athletes in the world.
The New Zealand relay team were hoping to qualify for the world championships in Finland later this year.
The team were on track too, as Bailey, running third, handed the baton to his teammate with a 25-metre lead.
However, disaster struck as the young runner pulled his hamstring within 15 metres of the finish, quashing Kiwi hopes of appearing at the world games.
Bailey says it was a tough pill to swallow.
“I knew we were going to get close and I was jumping up and down, it was looking good, and then suddenly he just dropped.”
He says the experience has so far been the highlight of his short career.
Bailey won gold in the 200m at the 2017 national championships, but a severe case of shin splints curtailed his 2018 season, finishing fifth at nationals.
Having hung up the rugby boots to focus fully on his sprinting, Bailey will soon start his winter training regime.
He has run personal best times of 11.20, 22.2 and 50.1 in the 100, 200 and 400m respectively.
Bailey hopes to break the sub 11, 20 and 50 seconds marks next season.