Future sports stars identified


Four young top of the south sportspeople have been given a boost to help develop their sporting careers.

Two rowers, a track sprinter and a netballer have been added to a Sport New Zealand talent development programme which provides guidance for up to three years.

Olly Stephens, Jack O’Leary, Lucy Sheat and Abbey Franklin have been chosen for the Pathway to Podium programme after convincing their national sports bodies they have the potential to do well internationally. They join four other athletes from Marlborough and Nelson who have returned for a second year after being part of the first intake last year.

Franklin, a 17-year-old Nelson College for Girls student, was recently selected as a reserve for the NZ secondary schools netball team after earlier being involved in the Tactix development squad. O’Leary says he is delighted to have been selected for the programme.

“It came as a bit of surprise but I’m very happy. I hope to get some tips on how to maintain a very busy lifestyle and balance study with a sporting career.”

Stephens, a 19-year-old from Nelson Rowing Club, and O’Leary, a 19-year-old from Picton Rowing Club, were selected after winning bronze at the junior world champs last year, with O’Leary going on to be picked in the national under 21 team.

Sheat, a 16-year-old Marlborough Girls College student, has developed into one of the top junior sprinters in the country, winning silver medals in the 100m and 200m at the national secondary school champs last year. She will represent NZ in both events at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa in September.

Sport Tasman community sport advisor and Pathway to Podium coordinator Terri Willcocks says the four newcomers have begun attending a series of workshops on nutrition, psychology and life as an athlete. They are also being offered strength and conditioning advice and support.

“This year we also plan to include workshops on self-massage, media relations and communication.”
Ms Willcocks says the aim of the programme is to prepare promising athletes for the demands of higher competition.

It cost about $25,000 to run the top of the south programme, with the bulk of the money coming from Sport NZ.