gecenin kanunu izle hızlı ve öfkeli 8 izle yeni nesil ajan 3 izle

Menu

Road to the Championships 2015

Following five athletes on their paths to the 2015 World Athletics Championships, the World University Games and the IPC World Athletics Championships

HOLLY ROBINSON - JAVELIN (IPC ATHLETICS DOHA WORLD CHAMPS)

6 November 2015
Having had a week or so to reflect on my performance at the IPC Athletics World Championships, I can look back with pride on the mental strength I showed to post a PB and win a bronze medal after a difficult start to the competition.
In the immediate wake of the final I was disappointed because I knew I had more in me, but I have to take the positives out of the experience. I am inching closer to the top girls and I can look forward with confidence to next year’s Rio Paralympics.
As readers of my previous blogs will know, I faced a long wait before my javelin competition in Doha as it was scheduled for the final day of the championships. This meant I was based in the city for around 15 or 16 days before the final - a painstakingly long time and I believe it definitely contributed to a few additional nerves ahead of the final.
Raylene, my coach, suggested I compete in the long jump which was early in the schedule and I definitely think it proved a useful exercise. The long jump is a very alien event for me and I didn’t make top eight but it was good to familiarise myself with both the conditions and the atmosphere in the stadium and it was a good distraction ahead of the javelin.
I found the city of Doha, its people and the culture fascinating. Yes, it was very hot, some days the temperature reached 35c or 36c, but over-time I became more acclimatised to the conditions and by the end of our time there we were comfortable wearing long sleeves and track pants.
The competition was very well organised from beginning to end. Within 45 minutes of arriving at the airport we were on our way to the hotel and then as soon as we arrived at the hotel there was someone there to grab our bags.
I also found the culture of the country so interesting. We had to cover our shoulders down to our elbows and cover our legs down to our knees in public, although I did commit one cultural faux pas on one of my first days in Doha. I was in the market wearing running tights, when I realised everyone stopped to stare at us. Note to self, don’t wear tights in the market again!
The long wait ahead of my event at least gave me time to see lots of the action and support the New Zealand team. It was one of the best teams I have ever been involved with. We were so supportive of one another and it was such a thrill to see we were winning medals and setting so many PB’s.
Yet one of the most amazing athletes I saw all week was the one legged Brazilian high jumper. Hopping on one leg he managed to clear the sort of height I could never clear – and I am not short at 1.79m. He was amazing.
The nerves and excitement really started to build two or three days before the competition, but once the competition started I was so excited I started to over-think. My first effort was a poor 33m throw and then I fouled with my next two efforts. After a disappointing fourth round throw I knew I had to calm down and re-evaluate how I was approaching the competition.
As athletes we are often told about the importance of mental skills but until you are in the heat of battle it is a struggle to comprehend its relevancy. I needed to control the negative chimp in my mind and ahead of my fifth round throw I focused on one thing; aggression would be my cue.
I felt good on the runway during my fifth throw and two steps before release I was confident it would be a good one It sailed out and landed at 38.18m – a PB and New Zealand record. I turned around and let out a huge first pump. Thank God! It was such a relief that had I solidified my bronze medal position.
My final throw felt even better, but the javelin slipped out of the hand and it landed at 35m. No matter, I had managed to turn around a difficult competition with a PB and I’m immensely proud of the way I handled myself.
Initially, as I said, I was a little disappointed with my performance because I knew that I had so much more to give, but looking back now winning a bronze medal with a PB - and the fact I am only two metres from the gold medallist (Hollie Arnold of Great Britain) - means I can look back positively on 2015.
Unfortunately, we flew straight out from Doha that night, so apart from a beer at the airport with the team I have had little opportunity to celebrate – that will have to wait until my 21st birthday on November 21.
With exams next week I have plenty to occupy my time in the short term, but looking ahead to Rio next year I have lots to be optimistic about. My periodisation under the coaching of Raylene (Bates) is excellent but I know I need to be stronger, faster and technically better and it will only be by improving these three elements will I be able to reach the very top.
Holly


This is the last blog in the 2015 Road to the Championships blog series, so thanks to the five athlete bloggers for sharing their paths to major events with us during 2015.
Our next series, the Road to Rio will start up soon as we follow another five athletes on their journey to the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2016 Rio Paralympics. Coming soon!

HOLLY ROBINSON - JAVELIN (IPC ATHLETICS DOHA WORLD CHAMPS)

15 October 2015
With the IPC Athletics World Championships looming ever closer my final pre-Doha blog can't escape the topic of heat, which has played a major part in my final preparations
I'm currently based in sweltering Darwin with the rest of the New Zealand team. Yet even prior to arriving in Australia's Northern Territory, during our pre-training camp in the much chillier climate of Dunedin, the emphasis was on preparing for the intense heat we are likely to face in Doha, Qatar.
The New Zealand team all participated in a heat acclimation study carried out by a group of third year students at the University of Otago where we completed four sessions in four straight days in a heat chamber set at 35c and 65 per cent humidity. It was tough. Before each session we passed urine, gave blood and our weight and skin and core temperatures were taken. We were then told to complete six four-minute sessions – I chose the bike – with four minutes recovery, where we had to reach 90 per cent of our heart rate maximum.
I personally thought it would get easier each day, but I think because we became a more accustomed to the process it actually got harder to reach 90 per cent of heart rate max and at the end of the four days I was exhausted.
It may have been very demanding but at least by the end of the fourth session we had made some improvements in terms of our skin and core temperature, so it was definitely worth the pain.
I also competed on a couple of occasions during the camp. I was really happy to throw nearly 37m in my first comp, although in my second competition it didn't click, but whether that was a hangover from those heat acclimation sessions, I'll never know.
The pre-camp was a good experience and we even all went to the ITM Cup clash between Otago and Southland. It was a really enjoyable day helped by the fact I am an Otago fan and we beat Southland 61-7, although it is safe to say the one Southland fan in the team heading to Doha was not quite as happy.
We next moved on to Darwin – a place I can only describe as ridiculously hot not helped by the fact we have been eaten alive by mosquitoes since we got here. One of my team-mates Caitlin Dore was bitten by a spider and needed antibiotics to treat the problem.
Thankfully, from a training point of view the facilities are ideal as we are only a five-minute drive from the training track which also has a gym. Meanwhile, because I am starting to taper down my training volume is also not as great, although I'm making sure each session is short, sharp and packed full of quality.
Readers of my previous blogs will know that I was racing to get through all my uni work to free up time on the trip to totally focus on javelin. This has left some precious free time which has been a nice relief.
We visited a crocodile farm where my room-mate, Anna Grimaldi, and I are pictured holding up a crocodile and I even managed to overcome my fear of snakes at the park by holding on to one at least long enough for a photo!
We leave for Doha on Thursday and as my javelin competition is not until the final day, I have definitely committed to competing in the long jump early in the schedule. As I mentioned in my previous blog my coach, Raylene, was keen for me to compete to get used to the conditions and atmosphere and after recently posting a personal best of 4.61m in Dunedin that pretty much sealed the deal.
But my main focus is all about performing to my best in the javelin. I'm now really excited to land in Doha. I believe my javelin is progressing nicely and I feel I am in the best position I have ever been going into a major championship. I'm really excited to go out there and perform and prove to myself all the hard work has been worth it.
Holly

HOLLY ROBINSON - JAVELIN (IPC ATHLETICS DOHA WORLD CHAMPS)

25 September 2015
Since my last blog, I’m delighted to say I have been formally selected for the IPC World Championships in Doha. It is great to be part of the biggest team New Zealand has sent to an IPC champs for a long time, which has a nice blend of experienced athletes and athletes new to the international scene. My coach, Raylene Bates, also the High Performance Para-Athlete Manager for Athletics NZ, has done so much work to develop the programme and it is great to see the programme really reaping rewards and more and more Kiwi para-athletes emerging onto the elite level.
My more observant followers may also have noticed that I have been selected to compete for not only the javelin but also the long jump, which requires an explanation!
Well I do some long jump as part of my training. I find that technical aspects of the long jump have helped with aspects of my javelin finish. Selection came about when in February I entered into the long jump at the Otago Championships - mainly as a little bit of an added motivation for my training partner and fellow Doha-bound athlete Anna Grimaldi, who is a specialist in the event.
I didn’t jump too badly back then with a legal best of 4.40m, which exceeded the required standard for the IPC World Championships and Raylene is keen for me to compete in the long jump in Doha. The reason? Well, my javelin is on the final day of the 11-day programme and she feels as the long jump is on within the first few days of the programme it will help me become more accustomed to the atmosphere and the conditions I am likely to face and help get rid of some nerves before my main event, javelin. We need to make a definitive decision in the next few days, but I trust in my coach, she always tends to know what is best for me. I am currently ranked 17th in the world for the event, which is not too bad, and Raylene believes I’m capable of a semi-respectable jump.
Switching back to the javelin, I’ve been pleased with how my training is progressing as the Worlds loom closer into view. More recently we’ve ramped up the throwing sessions and I’ve worked hard on technically refining the very end of my throw.
Every Friday for the past four weeks, Raylene has introduced a mock competition for the training group. I have found this very useful in focusing the mind and helping get me into competition mode. I started out throwing around 35m and have stepped up to 36m in the last couple of weeks. I’m not now far from my PB of 37.88, the throws feel good and I believe I am rounding into the best shape when it counts.
On Friday (Sept 25) we will go into a ten-day pre-Doha training camp with the rest of the New Zealand team here in Dunedin as we begin to fine tune our final preparations. One important element will be our work in the heat chamber at Otago University - which will hopefully help aid our heat acclimatisation for when we compete in Qatar.
We will be asked to do four sessions of four minutes on and four minutes off of cardio work for between 45-50mins at 90 per cent of heart rate max. As a thrower I’m not a huge fan of cardio work but at least we get to choose the piece of equipment we get to work on with the bike, my preferred option over the step machine or hand crank.
After the Dunedin camp we will then fly out for around ten days in Darwin in the Northern Territory for our final preparations before heading out to Doha. Do I like the heat? Well, thankfully, I do. The heat is my friend. I always feel more relaxed in the heat so hopefully the conditions I am likely to face will not faze me.
The exciting part of the next few weeks is I will solely be able to focus on athletics. I’ve worked really hard over the past few months to finish off my university assignment to ensure I have no other distractions leading into Doha. I look forward to catching up from Darwin for my next blog.
Holly

QUENTIN REW - RACE WALKER (SELECTED FOR BEIJING WORLD CHAMPS)

17 September 2015
I signed off from my last blog as someone might sign off when they are ‘signing off’. That’s because I thought my last blog would be my last blog. Turns out this blog will be my last blog, so the last blog was the second to last blog. I hope that clears things up.
It has been more than two weeks since I raced at World Champs, and that has given me time to properly reflect on my performances there. I placed 17th in the 20km walk, and 10th in the 50km, and I’m proud of both results. The times were slightly slower than what I was hoping for, partly due to the heat, partly due to tactics, and partly limited by my own imperfect technique.
My first race was over 20km, and despite the heat not being as extreme as we had planned for, I decided to keep my pre-race regime of hyper-hydration and pre-cooling. Physiological benefits aside, it’s good to keep things as procedural as possible to reduce nerves. I also knew in the back of my mind that on that day I was a 50km walker in disguise – the 20km wasn’t my favoured event, and that too helped keep things relaxed. The race plan was to start at 4:05 – 4:10 per one kilometre lap, then accelerate in the middle 10km to under 4:05 per km, then finish off with whatever I had left. The start was just what I wanted: Team China pushed the early pace, which strung out the field, and minimised bunching for the 1400m inside the Bird’s Nest. My pace was good, and I was able to increase it as I had intended. From 6-10km I was well under 4:05/km, and I passed half way on track for a national record. In pushing the pace, however, I had started attracting attention from the judges. I already had one report and several warnings, so after 10km I backed off the pace slightly, to reduce the risk of further reports (three reports amounts to a DQ). Fortunately, further reports never came, but in being conservative during the third quarter I left myself too much work to reel in the group in front. It didn’t help that I was isolated for the last 10km. I finished in 1:22.18 for 17th place: just outside a top 16 finish, just outside a PB, and overall a little frustrating. Having finished with energy to spare, and just 40 seconds behind eighth place made my frustration all the worse.
As per usual after a hard 20km race, I felt quite stiff for a while afterwards, but my body felt better with each passing day, and when I lined up for the 50km later that week I felt as good as new again. I went through the same pre-race routine as for the 20km, but with a shorter warm-up. In such a long race, the first few kilometres serve as a warm-up of sorts anyway! The 50km start was in stark contrast to that of the 20km, the pace was slow and the field bunched. When we left the Birds Nest for the 2km circuit outside the stadium, the field began stretching out, but the pace was still relatively slow. I found myself in the second pack – just where I wanted to be – and felt comfortable with the pace. The arrival into the group of Spanish veteran and notoriously slow starter Jesus Angel Garcia brought an increase in pace, but I still felt comfortable at around 4:30/km. And so it remained up until the halfway stage, when I received my second report. With half the race remaining, it was too early to simply shut down and roll through to the finish. I had to maintain some kind of pace, but technique became paramount. That meant bidding farewell the final remnants of the second pack, and making sure I remained in control of my pace. In reality I didn’t slow down much, and I was still overtaking the discards from further up the field. At some time in the final 10km I realised that there was nobody within cooee, either in front or behind. That being the case, I abandoned any hope of breaking the national record, preferring instead to cement my tenth place and stay on the good side of the judges. Again I arrived into the Birds Nest with some fuel in the tank, but this time I doubt it cost me any places (Garcia, in ninth, was more than two minutes ahead).
I’m proud of my performance at the World Championships, but I also know they could have been better. There is still plenty to work on for Rio, and I’m really excited about what the next year might bring.
Quentin

SIOSITINA HAKEAI - DISCUS (SELECTED FOR BEIJING WORLD CHAMPS)

10 September 2015
It goes without saying I am very disappointed with my performance at the World Championships in Beijing. To finish 30th overall with a best of 54.89m and fall way short of my best (Siositina's PB is 59.81m) is not what I wanted. I now have to do my best to put it behind me, learn from the experience and re-set my goals looking ahead to the Rio Olympics next year.
What makes my performance even more disappointing is my form leading into Beijing appeared so promising. Prior to the Worlds, I had enjoyed a good training stint in Japan. The week before the World Championships I competed solidly in Chiba throwing 57.30m and then two days before my qualification in Beijing I threw a pair 60m plus throws in training. Technically everything was starting to come together. I was happy and excited about competing in Beijing and even enjoyed a good night's sleep of around eight to nine hours on the eve of competition.
On the morning of qualification we decided to travel early to the warm-up track fearful of arriving late after two days earlier my fellow Kiwi Nikki Hamblin got caught in traffic for more than an hour travelling from the hotel to the warm up track ahead of her heat of the 1500m. Did I arrive a little early at the track? I guess we'll never know, but what I can say is that when I was out in the Bird's Nest Stadium I did not feel my usual adrenaline rush that I typically experience before a big competition. I didn't feel pumped or hyped up – instead I felt nothing. I can't really explain why.
Physically I felt relaxed but my head was scrambled. My mind was over-thinking everything. I bowled my first throw out to 54.89m. I then tried too hard to avoid bowling my second throw but I moved my head. I was correcting one fault only to create another. I did not register a valid throw on my second and third attempts and my World Championships were over.
There is little doubt I did feel pressure. I felt pressure since winning selection and the whole World Championship experience was far greater than the 2014 Commonwealth Games. It is a big step up. Competing at World Championships was a massive experience and one which I hope to learn from in future.
It was not all bad and I do take many positive memories from the trip. I always take so much pride from competing in the Black Singlet. It is an amazing feeling. I enjoyed supporting my fellow Kiwis and also travelled out to the Great Wall of China, which was unforgettable. To understand the history behind the Great Wall is pretty mindblowing.
So what did I learn from Beijing?
In some ways it is still too early to say, but one thing I took from the experience is the world's top throwers are small but also really fast in the circle and I know I need to improve in both areas to reach that level.
I know I need to put the hard yards into training. I need to be happy in training. I need to want to train and also drop some weight. Only if all these things happen will I be able to produce my best. I can't, however, beat myself up about Beijing. The competition has gone and I can't do anything about it now. I had a week off after World's but now I'm back in light training and looking forward to next season. The aim and ambition is to throw 61m as soon as possible to qualify for Rio with the ultimate goal 63m. I now have to look forward to the future and not dwell on Beijing.
Thanks for reading my blog
Dina

MICHAEL COCHRANE - 400M HURDLES (SELECTED FOR BEIJING WORLD CHAMPS)

4 Sept 2015
For my final blog, I am happy to report I am immensely satisfied with my efforts at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, where although, I finished seventh and missed out on a spot in the semi-finals – which was my ultimate goal – I set a national 400m hurdles record of 49.58. I was really delighted to have trimmed 0.14 from my PB and to achieve it on the biggest stage in the biggest race of my career so far was immensely pleasing.
I knew the race would be fast. I was one of only three men in my heat not to have broken 49 seconds and I knew I would need to probably run low 49s to advance. I took off as fast as I could and I had the Kenyan, Nicholas Bett (and eventual World champion) on my outside. Up until hurdle eight I was second but because I started so quickly, I died over the last couple of hurdles stages and finished seventh.
I knew after the Kenyan had run 48.37 - and because I didn’t feel a second-and-a-half behind him - I must have set a PB and when the time flashed up on the scoreboard, I gave a little fist pump at setting a new national record (which he had previously co-owned with Cameron French at 49.72). To be honest, it was just great to be out there competing against some of the world’s best and it helped make me aware of which areas I’m lacking in training. I felt my 100m speed was very good as was my 600m fitness, but I definitely believe I lacked a little bit of the lactate tolerance between these distances. This was reflected in the fact I could start the race well and get out quickly before struggling to deal with the lactate later in the race.
The men’s 400m hurdles proved to be a completely random and unpredictable event in Beijing because it was won not by an American, as you might have expected, but it was won by Bett, a Kenyan, followed by a Russian and a Bahamian athlete. Very few would have picked that order at the beginning of the competition.
It was nice to stay in a hotel and rub shoulders with athletes from many other countries. I saw the likes of World 200m champion Dafne Schippers and Ukrainian high jumper and 2013 World champion Bohdan Bondarenko just walking around going about their daily business.
The build up to the World Championships in Beijing had gone promisingly. I had set a season’s best 49.74 in Chiba in my final meeting before competing in the Bird’s Nest Stadium, so I knew I was in good shape. Then to compete at the Bird’s Nest Stadium on a brand new Mondo track was such a great opportunity.
It was such a cool atmosphere in Japan. We went out for a number of team dinners. We ate every meal together as a team and I also spent quite a bit of time playing a card game called 500, which Quentin Rew was particularly good at.
Once we arrived in Beijing I shared a room with Julian Matthews, the middle-distance runner. I didn’t know much about Julian before this trip but it was cool to hang out with him and to get to know him. He didn’t compete until later in the champs, so it was important that once I had competed that I played the good room-mate and not disturb him too often.
After I was eliminated from the first round heats I could sit down and enjoy all the morning and evenings sessions of athletics until flying home on day five of the championships. I’m a huge athletics fan, so it was great to watch all the action led by Usain Bolt beating Justin Gatlin which was my personal highlight. Another was watching Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill finish fourth and eighth, respectively, in the men’s shot put. We were all watching Tom and Jacko compete as a team and it was very exciting. We were all pumped for the pair and it was great to see them perform well.
I will never forget my Beijing experiences, but the sport of athletics always moves on. My next target is attaining the A qualification of 49.40 (Mike, already has two B standards) for the Rio Olympics – a time I believe I am more than capable of achieving. I’m back in light training this week and will start working with a new coach, the Australian, Lyn Forman shortly. Lyn is based in Perth and the intention further down the track is to eventually move out to Western Australia, although Angus Ross will continue to work on my strength and conditioning programme. But that is for the future, as for the present I can only look back with pride on producing my very best performance of my career at the World Championships.
Thanks for reading my blog.
Mike

QUENTIN REW - RACE WALKER (SELECTED FOR BEIJING WORLD CHAMPS)

19 August 2015
It’s been five weeks since my last Athletics NZ blog, but that was less blog and more collection of random thoughts. I haven’t done an ‘update’ since May, and quite a bit happened since then.
Before heading away for the World Champs pre-camp, I was training well in Melbourne for May and June. There was nothing spectacular coming out of the training sessions, but it was great having a solid block of solid, uninterrupted training for months on end. 
In early July I left Melbourne for Canberra. First on the agenda was a friend’s wedding, after which I stayed on for five weeks in the altitude house. Readers of my earlier blogs might remember that I’m no stranger to the AIS facilities in Canberra, and it was good to be back in a familiar environment to smash out some excellent training. And smash we did. A training week there typically involved two heat sessions, three gym sessions, two long (35km+) walks, long reps, short reps, and one or two tempo sessions. That’s on top of the physiological stress of living at 3000m simulated altitude, which all adds up to five weeks of the best training I’ve ever done. Aside from getting faster, I was able to track improvements through testing haemoglobin mass. That increased by over 7%, which equates to a 10% increase in VO2max, which equates to an excellent result! Other markers of improvement were in the form of sweat rates, efficiency, and heart-rate over various sessions. I’m indebted to numerous staff at the AIS for enabling such thorough and considered assistance, notably Louise Burke and Philo Saunders, heavyweights in sports nutrition and physiology respectively.
I left Canberra on August 9th feeling great, if a little tired from the training block. Arriving in Saga for the Athletics NZ pre-camp brought a whole new challenge: heat. Temperatures here have been hovering around 30 degrees, with humidity typical of Asian summertime. I was able to prepare for this somewhat, firstly by using a heat chamber in Melbourne, and then at the University of Canberra – but nothing quite prepares you for the day-in, day-out sapping warmth that Japan has produced. In saying that, it is excellent preparation for the likely weather in Beijing, and I feel so well prepared that I’m almost hoping to race in extreme heat!
Aside from the heat, Saga has been an excellent place to train. We’re a few hundred metres from a track and a gym, and the facility is surrounded by a good loop for longer training sessions. The local support staff have bent over backwards to help with training sessions as well as fun activities, and have broken down the language barrier so effectively that it’s like we’re training at home. Most importantly, being in the Athletics NZ team environment is something I’ve really missed. There was no major championship for race walking last year, and in 2013 I skipped the pre-camp entirely, so the last time I was immersed in the NZ team setting was Cardiff, just before the 2012 Olympics. 
At this point it would be remiss not to mention some of the many people who have helped me this season. The team in Melbourne: coach Brent Vallance; training partner Chris Erickson; his father Tim on drinks, admin, organising, and political commentary; and all the crew at VRWC. In Canberra – training partners and accommodation providers Jared Tallent and Brendon Reading; Phil Reading on drinks and his wife Jenny on nutrition. Of course parents, family and friends of all descriptions have supported me in more ways than I can describe, and finally I should thank the evolutionary pioneers who made all this possible: the meat-eaters, the fire-starters, the alphabet inventors – you know who you are.
Quentin

HOLLY ROBINSON - JAVELIN (IPC ATHLETICS DOHA WORLD CHAMPS)

11 August 2015
It’s been a wee while since my last blog and it is hard for me to avoid making mention of the fact it is probably the worst winter I’ve experienced since I’ve been down here in Dunedin. We’ve had regular bouts of snow, plenty of wind and endless downpours all of which takes its toll both physically and mentally. Understandably my motivation has occasionally been tested, but I know I just have to tough it out and that the winter won’t last forever.
The icy conditions have not made training easy. One half of the track at the Caledonian Ground – which is hidden from the sun – can freeze during the winter months, but at least I have alternative options and I am really lucky to be able to train at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
At one end of the stadium is a giant concrete slab which is a good space to carry out drills and throwing practise with javelin balls. The winter does keep you on your toes, but as long as you have at least a plan B up your sleeve you can usually cope with the adverse conditions.
Of course, it is slightly ironic to be talking of the chilly conditions and sub-zero temperatures when I know that in October I’ll be facing temperatures of up to 37c in Doha when competing at the IPC World Track and Field Championships.
But don’t worry, my coach Raylene (Bates) is making sure I won’t be underprepared for the blistering conditions I am likely to face in Qatar. We’ve been using an athlete lounge - often used by the Highlanders out of the High Performance Sport New Zealand base here in Dunedin – setting the heater to a maximum temperature of 32c. Here I carry out core work and stretching and although I found the temperature tough going at first, I am gradually getting used to it.
Shortly I’ll be using the heat chamber - where I’ll be carrying out more vigorous exercise in high temperatures – to help me get more accustomed to what I am likely to face in Doha.
Training over the past few months has gone well. We’ve emerged from a heavier block of training into a power phase and I couldn’t be happier with where I’m at.
Back in late June, I did manage to get the opportunity to leave the Dunedin cold behind me for a week to train in Brisbane with Raylene, Tori Peeters (the New Zealand women’s javelin record holder) and the New Zealand team bound for the World University Games. It was cool to be around the team and I also managed to squeeze in one competition – throwing 34.60m, which was a good marker to see where I was at. A biomechanist also filmed me when I was out there and showed me areas that I needed to work on. It was a valuable week of training.
Now with just a little over two months to go before the IPC World Championships, I currently sit third on the world rankings – less than two metres behind the Australian world leader Madeleine Hogan and Great Britain’s Hollie Arnold. It is going to be a tight and exciting competition and it is also interesting to see the Paralympic champion and world record holder Katarzyna Piekart is back again competing. She is fourth on the world rankings and the Pole will also be a danger.
The plan now is to keep up the high level of training before the New Zealand team meet up in Dunedin for pre-camp and then leave for Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory for another training camp before heading on to Doha. I hope to get in three or four competitions during this period in preparations for worlds.
Away from the track, my university work has been pretty intense as I’m trying to fit everything in to allow for my lengthy time away from Dunedin in preparation for Doha. This has made life busy, but I know that by working hard now it will allow me time to fully focus on the worlds without the distraction of uni work.
I’ve also recently taken on a new role in my work placement with BASE – a programme for the unemployed. I am involved in the physical fitness aspect of BASE and for the first time I am now leading this area, which is really cool because it has allowed me to introduce a few new elements. Taking up this role has been a big learning experience for me. When first starting at BASE I didn’t quite realised the positive impact that physical fitness can have on your overall well-being and it has taught me how to deal with many different people, personalities and issues.
Finally, I can’t sign off my latest blog without making mention of the Highlanders magnificent victory in the Super Rugby Final last month. The atmosphere in Dunedin was crazy on finals night, so much so that when we arrived at the local bar to watch the match half-an-hour before kick-off it was full and we had to go home and watch a live streaming of the game on the internet.
The Highlanders train out of the same high performance centre as I do, so it was great to see them win. Even my flat-mates, who are not so interested in sport, got behind the Highlanders that night which was great to see.
Holly

SIOSITINA HAKEAI - DISCUS (SELECTED FOR BEIJING WORLD CHAMPS)

4 August 2015
With just days to go before I fly out to the pre-World Championships holding camp in Japan, a key part of my final preparations will be making sure I pack everything I need to enable me to produce my best when it counts in Beijing.
I’m meticulous about the way I like to pack. I like to make sure I have two of everything and top of the list of my priorities will be my two pairs of discus shoes. Next up, I’ll pack my trusty two discuses, just to make sure that I am not caught out at a training venue with nothing to throw – a not uncommon problem! I will then pack two of everything in terms of my training and competition clothes and I also make sure I have gear to suit every type of weather - hot, cold, sunny, rainy or windy.
When I was younger I made a mistake of listening to someone say that that I wouldn’t need warm clothes travelling to Brisbane because it is always sunny. I thought, sweet, I’ll just pack for a hot day, but when I rocked up it was freezing and I had no jumper with me, which is a mistake I don't plan on repeating. So although I know the weather conditions in Japan and China and likely to be hot and humid, nothing is guaranteed.
The next phase of my packing will include my essentials such as iPod and lap-top. I love chilling out when I’m competing on overseas trips by listening to music and watching TV series or movies. I’m particularly into Empire, the TV series at the moment. It is very addictive, so I’m sure I will be catching up on a few episodes during my downtime.
Since my last blog I’ve finally completed my heavy training block and I’m currently freshening up in a lighter training period. To no longer be training with as much intensity feels a little strange, in fact in some ways it now feel like I’m hardly doing anything!
At the moment most of my training time is spent throwing or doing drills and focusing on the technical side of my throwing. I definitely feel that when I’m lifting my right knee higher and planting it the middle of the circle it is helping my distances. However, one error I’ve been making is pulling my head on release of the discus. Instinctively, I believe this is what I should be doing to produce more force but the reality is when I block my head this is the technically more proficient way to throw.
I am now throwing with greater speed, but what has been frustrating is this has caused me to rush my throws and move the head. I know I just need to show more patience.
Last month I competed in a competition over the North Shore, but only managed a best of 53.42m. The distance was not what I wanted and although the rhythm felt good because I was pulling my head up the trajectory of the discus was going higher rather than longer.
The good news is I still have a little time to fix things. I will spend two weeks in Saga in Japan putting my final preparations together where it will be great to meet up with the New Zealand squad. Dating back to our World Youth Championships days I’m good pals with Jacko Gill, although usually when the two of us hang out together it normally spells trouble!
I have one more competition in Japan on August 15 before Beijing, where I hope to show good form ahead of the biggest competition of my career. It will be amazing to throw against the best throwers in the world inside the Bird’s Nest Stadium - a huge learning process. My aim is simply to throw the crap out of the discus! If everything comes together, my main goal is to get the qualification mark of 61m for next year’s Rio Olympics. Should I achieve that ambition, then that would be perfect.
Dina

MICHAEL COCHRANE - 400M HURDLES (SELECTED FOR BEIJING WORLD CHAMPS)

31 July 2015
With less than a month to go to the Beijing World Championships, I am delighted with how my preparations have gone in the countdown to the biggest competition of my career.
My speed is finally advancing to the standard of other top 400m hurdlers, my endurance is strong thanks to a month of high volume work pre-Europe, my hurdling is snappy and my stride length is perfect. In training, I’m managing to handle my new racing pattern of 13 strides to hurdle six and 14 strides to the finish. All I need to do now it work on nailing that stride pattern on race day and I am confident the New Zealand record will be history.
In my last blog, I wrote about my time based in Leipzig staying with wife’s uncle. However, I ended up leaving prematurely because I was struggling with the flu and the cold wet weather I was experiencing there was not conducive to aiding my recovery. I then made the decision to shift base to Mannheim on the other side of Germany, where my wife and I spent a few days living in Tom Walsh’s spare room. Tom was one of the best men at my wedding last year and it was great to catch up with him, especially watching how he lives and trains as a newly paid up member of the superstar athletics club!
From a competitive point of view, I started my European adventure with a couple of races on the flat to help ease my way back into racing and work on my speed – an area where I traditionally struggle. I’m delighted to say I comfortably set a pair of long overdue PB’s in the 200m and 400m, although my tactically inexperience over both distances were exposed. I took a massive 1.06 from my 200m best with a 22.07 clocking in (yes, my previous best was 23.12), although after smashing everyone over the first 100m I realised that most 200m runners save some energy for the second part of the race, and I got mowed down by quite a few guys.
I lowered my 400m PB a week later by 0.71 - posting 48.23, although I was slightly baffled to be moved from the C race with the other 48 second runners into the A race with the 45-46 second runners. After 200m I trailed the field by ten metres only for a sudden burst of energy to kick in. I managed to catch and pass a bunch of 46 second runners to finish third. It was a great result but I wish I could have known how fast I could have run had I not had to contend with a stiff headwind down the back straight.
I was realistic about what I could achieve in Naimette-Xhovemont in Belgium as I lined up for my first 400m hurdles in more than two months. I knew I would be a little ring rusty, but I was a disappointed to run 51.10 in perfect conditions, especially a week after smashing my 400m PB. The mistake I made was running too conservatively during the first half of the race which only served to disrupt my stride pattern.
Thankfully, nine days later in my next outing at the Morton Games in Dublin I ran much more impressively. I was pumped ahead of the race and I had been visualising how I would win, so do so in a season’s best time of 50.07 was enormously satisfying, especially as I also earned a little bit of spending money too!
What is encouraging is that I know there is a lot more left in the tank. Due to a strong headwind my stride pattern went awry in Dublin in fact Simon Pearson, the HPSNZ Performance and Technique Analyst, reckoned because of the stride pattern issues I had encountered in Ireland I might have lost a full second in time, which means I am confident a 49-flat time could be just around the corner.
Since the beginning of July I moved out of Mannheim to be based in Leuven in Belgium and my next step in my adventure will see me move on to Copenhagen for my final European outing on August 5.
I’m looking forward to racing in the Danish capital, where apparently a top quality field has been assembled. Copenhagen’s weather can be a bit hit and miss at this time of year, but I just hope for some good conditions and to execute another confidence boosting run.
It would be great to smash the New Zealand record there – currently jointly held at 49.72 between myself and Cameron French – which would validate my selection by achieving the World Championships standard.
Post-Copenhagen, I head out to pre-Worlds training camp in Japan for ten days and then on to Beijing, where my main focus is setting a PB in the 400m hurdles heats. Typically, a sub-50 second time is usually good enough to make a semi, but I would like to qualify automatically and earn a good lane draw for the semi, which might require a 49.5 run. Then it will be all about going as hard as possible in an effort to make the final or earn a top 12 finish.
I look forward to writing about my Beijing experiences in my next blog
Mike

NICK SOUTHGATE - POLE VAULT (SELECTED FOR WORLD UNIVERSITY GAMES)

28 July
As those of you may be aware, my experience at the World University Games ended in a huge and abrupt disappointment. I had qualified for the final when a lower calf strain in warm up forced me to withdraw from the competition. Having undergone months of training to focus on Gwangju, it goes without saying it was a bitter pill to swallow. Yet I need to keep positive. The World University Games may not have panned out as I would have hoped, but I now have to re-set my goals and look forward to 2016 – an Olympic year.
I felt heading into Gwangju my form and shape was good and I was ready to perform. Around a week before competition I slightly tweaked my Achilles during the final four steps of a run up during practise. I did not experience excruciating pain and all the signs were that the injury was not too serious. I suspected it was simply a little inflammation.
I had treatment on the injury and thankfully my training was not compromised too much in the countdown to the competition.
During qualification for the final, I had felt pain in my right calf/Achilles but between each jump the pain settled down sufficiently for me to take the next vault. The session had not gone perfectly. I cleared 5.20m but only just scraped into the final into the 12th equal qualification. My initial calculations had told me I had not made it through, so I was relieved to found out that I’d made the final.
Two days later I went into the final confident I could make an impact, but on my second long run up during warm up - about four steps out from planting the pole - I felt this massive pop just under the calf, which made me stumble as I ran through. The pain was far more intense than I had previous felt. At first I was trying not to make a big deal of it and simply tried to walk it off, but Jeremy (my coach) realised the scale of the problem and said ‘I don't think you are going to make it down the runway.’ With the potential risk that I could cause greater damage to the leg should I continue to compete, I made the tough decision to withdraw. I've never done that before in a competition and it was not a pleasant thing to do, but it was the right decision.
When I returned to the Village, I then had a scan where it was revealed I had strained my calf. The good news is, it is not a serious problem, although the timing of the injury could not have been much worse.
Still, I have to remain positive. Despite missing ten weeks of training last year I performed well during the New Zealand domestic season posting a new lifetime best of 5.35m. Despite a difficult build up, I thought I managed to get myself in the best shape possible. I am not disheartened by my year.
I have to look forward to 2016 with optimism. Rio is a huge goal. I love that goal chasing aspect of sport and to qualify for the Olympics next year is the primary aim.
Thanks for reading my blog.
Nick

QUENTIN REW - RACE WALKER (SELECTED FOR BEIJING WORLD CHAMPS)

15 July 2015
With World Champs fast approaching, I've been thinking about what it means to pull on the New Zealand singlet at another major competition. For a lot of people - athletes and fans - pride in your favourite team is ingrained without much thought: you support the All Blacks because they're Kiwis, like you. A fan's favourite team is usually based on a shared geography, rather than shared values - but that doesn't have to be the case.
Obvious exceptions to the rule include the global fan base of English football clubs like Manchester United, as well as our own ABs. The former is driven by money and marketing, and the latter by folklore and legend. Occasionally an athlete arises to inspire widespread support through the way they race, and their attitude to the sport. Runners such as Steve Prefontaine and John Landy were able to garner support the world over through their contrasting but equally endearing personalities.
Lately, the Black Caps are receiving worldwide praise, both for their positive on-field displays, and gentlemanly off-field performances. These are values which most New Zealanders strive for, and are proud of - and serve as pointed reminders to the differences with the Black Caps’ counterparts from across the Tasman. When a puzzled Australian journalist asked about his team's respectful attitude in the field, Brendon McCullum stated "We're not good enough to sledge". This brand of wry humility resonates strongly with New Zealanders. We see ourselves as country of hard-working, fair, friendly and humble souls. We would go the extra mile to help a neighbour in need, we have no time for self-important bigwigs or braggarts, and we expect the same of our athletes.
A man who would have been quite at home in the Black Caps' dressing room is Craig Barrett. Easily the most famous New Zealand race walker of the last 50 years, Craig epitomised the attitude espoused by McCullum's men. He is best known for his dramatic collapse in the heat of Kuala Lumpur, in sight of both finish line and Commonwealth gold medal, leading by over a kilometre. It is unfortunate that he is not better known for his better performances: a Commonwealth medal, New Zealand records in practically every distance, over 30 national titles, and 7th place in the 1999 World Champs.
I have lost track of the number of international athletes who have gone out of their way to tell me how they have never seen anyone race like Craig did in the 1997 World Cup. On that day he simply walked away from a world class field, to lead the best in the world by over a minute at halfway, only to be stopped by the judge's paddle shortly thereafter. So why would he gel with our national cricket team? It is simply his attitude: assertive, meticulous, honest. When he raced the national championships not long after the Commonwealth heartbreak, a trackside commentator asked:
“Remembering what happened in KL, did you have any trepidation in racing today?”
Craig responded “Sorry, I don’t know what that means.”
Commentator: “Did you have any fear?”
Craig: “No.”
Should he have eased off the pace to avoid that infamous Commonwealth Games collapse? He was literally streets ahead. He could have slowed to a more conservative pace and given away half his lead in a bid to get to the finish line. Similarly at the World Cup: could he have slunk back into the pack, kept a low profile, and got through the race without putting himself so blatantly at the judges' mercy? The truth is he couldn't, because to have done so would have been to go against everything he stands for. It was never enough to win. Craig had to put himself on the line, he had to go as fast as he possibly could, otherwise what was the point? In some ways he wasn't even racing the rest of the field, only his own body and expectations. Winning a race in fourth gear was not an option.
One could ask a similar question of Brendon McCullum: in the face of 95,000 screaming Australians, should he have blocked a Mitchel Starc inswinging yorker on the fifth ball of this year's Cricket World Cup final? Logic says he probably should have. But that would have been almost incomprehensible. Like Craig Barrett, McCullum simply had to push the limits. He could never accept a victory by undermining the opposition. His tactic was to produce excellence, or as close to it as he could. If another team could something better on the day then McCullum would be the first to congratulate them.
Craig Barrett and Brendon McCullum epitomise what it is to be a Kiwi athlete. When I represent New Zealand, I strive to do more than just pull on a black singlet and hope for the best. I want to be an ambassador for our country and our values. If I can get close to following the lead offered by those two very different men, then I might just succeed.
Quentin

SIOSITINA HAKEAI - DISCUS (SELECTED FOR BEIJING WORLD CHAMPS)

8 July 2015
In my last blog, I highlighted the physical and mental pain of the early stages of experiencing a heavy block of training as a thrower. Well with only two weeks remaining of this tough period of training, I’m happy to write that the body is feeling much stronger and I’m starting to feel the benefit of the hard work.
During the first week of heavy winter training, I woke up each day and the body was sore. Some days my body was in so much pain I couldn’t even carry out my plyometric work. But, during the second week of heavy training my body started to adjust to the increased training load and it began to better handle the sessions.
Today my body is feeling much stronger. This has not yet been reflected in what I’m lifting in the gym because we have yet to do formal testing, but I know rather than having to stop and take a break after completing three reps in the gym I can now finish the sets without having to take a break.
From a throwing point of view I’ve been focusing on technique. I’m happy to say that I’m working hard on a much faster right foot pivot in the circle. I believe the technical changes I'm making feels quite different to this point last year, when my body felt much heavier.
Also from a technical point of view I feel I’m starting to get a greater understanding of throwing. In my younger days, I just used to smash the throw with my arms but now I realise that so much of the throw comes from the arms and the hips. At the moment I’m throwing way more with my legs, which is good.
I’ve also been quite lucky in that I’ve managed to dodge the worst of the Auckland winter weather thanks to the outstanding indoor throws facility at the AUT Millennium. This means I rarely have to train outside, which is good for me because I’m not a fan of the cold weather.
From a competitive point of view I might have more comps in New Zealand before heading out to the pre-World Championships training camp in Japan on August 6. At the moment, though, I’m just head down focusing on training. I don’t get too wrapped up with what my rivals are throwing. I simply try to focus on myself and after the next couple of weeks switch to a lighter training programme to taper down for Beijing. The aim is to trim 3-4kg in weight, but not lose too much weight in case this impacts upon muscle.
I’ve been very lucky to have received a lot support from my Athlete Life Advisor, Carolyn Donaldson. Carolyn is always there to help me whether it is regarding a general issue with flatting or how to organise my money and recently she gave me a contact at Nike to email. I sent them a message and very kindly they sent me through a couple of pairs of throwing shoes and some other Nike gear including training tops and a pair of Nike trainers.
All this equipment is expensive, so it is really valuable to receive it for free and it will help with my training.
Away from athletics and I was delighted to see one of my good friends, Malia Paseka, win selection for the Silver Ferns for next month's Netball World Cup in Australia. I first met Malia back in 2012 after she arrived from Australia to attend my old high school Auckland Girls’ Grammar School. I love netball. I used to play as a goal defence and although I will be overseas preparing for the Athletics World Championships when the tournament is on I will be doing my best to follow the action. It is cool Malia has made the team because I know how hard she works.
Finally, I’d like to finish my blog to say although Valerie Adams lost her 56 competition winning streak I know she will bounce back stronger than ever. She was clearly not at her best in Paris, which even the winner Christiana Schwanitz was prepared to concede. Everyone knows Valerie is capable of so much more and I'm confident we'll see a different Valerie next time she competes.
Dina

NICK SOUTHGATE - POLE VAULT (SELECTED FOR WORLD UNIVERSITY GAMES)

1 July 2015
Just over a week out from the biggest competition of my year, I’m pleased to report that the hand is in much better shape and I’m relishing the prospect of competing at the World University Games in Gwangju.
I’m penning my latest blog from Brisbane, where much of the New Zealand team for World Unis as well as World Youth Championships have gathered to fine tune their final preparations ahead of their respective global competitions.
As readers of my previous blog will know, I snapped a pole during warm up at the Oceania Championships in early May splitting the skin open from the base of my left hand through to the knuckle of my index finger – the third time I had suffered this same injury in the past 14 months.
Thankfully, the healing process has been relatively swift. I’m not feeling too much pain and I’ve been back vaulting again for the past month. Last weekend I even enjoyed my first competition since the accident in the Gold Coast. Fortunately, the comp went pretty well. I cleared 5.20m to win and then raised the bar to 5.40m. I ran through a couple of times at this height, but although I never managed to clear it – it was good to put the bar up and have a look at it (note, Nick’s PB is 5.35m).
I feel the timing is pretty good, but what may have stumped me the other day is I was jumping on a bigger pole than I’m used to. Hopefully, I will enjoy a different result in Korea.
The overall spell in camp here in Brisbane has gone well. We are based out of the Queensland Academy of Sport opposite the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre – host venue of the 1982 Commonwealth Games.
The facilities overall are good, although training out of a track (note, not the main track) without a full run-up has presented its frustrations. Nonetheless, a track at Gold Coast is only 45 minutes away, so this is easily fixable. It is great to be part of a Kiwi team of 20 or so athletes all. We all share the same mindset of preparing to perform at our very best. It is good to be in that environment.
I’m sharing an apartment with 400m hurdles Cameron French and javelin thrower Ben Langton-Burnell and the pair are pretty upbeat at the moment. At the weekend Cameron clocked a sub-50 time for his second fastest time ever and I know Ben was pretty pleased with a 72.57m throw. As athletes we always want more, but it is good to know my team-mates are in good shape ahead of Gwangju.
We have to all remember, however, this stage of the preparation is all about fine tuning. There is no point in smashing out another workout. We have to work with what we have and make sure we are on the top of your game without expending too much energy.
We plan to fly out to the Games Village on July 2 and that is when I think the excitement will really start to build. I plan to attend the Opening Ceremony and then we have to wait for about five days for the athletics programme to begin. My qualification session is on July 9 with the final taking place two days later. The qualification takes place on a morning – which is not my ideal time for competition – but it something as an athlete I have to deal with.
I believe a 5.20m jump will comfortably qualify me for the final and if I get my timing right, I know I can vault big with a top five placing the goal. It is important in the final few days ahead of competition to keep calm and to be able to adjust and adapt to whatever is thrown at me. It is important not to get too stressed and remember to have fun.
The next time you will read my blog, I will be reflecting on how I performed in Gwangju. I hope to have some happy news to report.
Nick

MICHAEL COCHRANE - 400M HURDLES (SELECTED FOR BEIJING WORLD CHAMPS)

24 June 2015
My preparations for the World Championships in Beijing have stepped up a notch now I've arrived in Leipzig, Germany for a period of training and racing in Europe. I was looking forward to escaping the New Zealand winter and enjoying the summer heat of the northern hemisphere, although I have to admit the temperature has yet to exceed 15c since I've been in Germany.
As I pointed out in my previous blog, I am staying here with my wife’s uncle, who been extremely welcoming and he has helped smooth the process because he is a fluent German speaker.
Adapting to somewhere new can always be challenging and my first day here I found driving around the city in my manual rental car demanding. After nearly crashing several times and initially forgetting what side of the road to drive on (yes, they drive on the right), I’ve now become accustomed to the change and I'm now at the point where I’m now back to criticising everyone else’s driving!
The adjustment to life in Germany has also been made easier because my wife, Beth, will be with me for my first three weeks here in Europe. After training on Saturday we went over to spend the night in Berlin – which is about two hours drive north east. I had a rest day on the Sunday, and Beth competed in a 10km fun run with 11,000 other participants. It was cool to be on the other side of the fence for once and for me to watch her run.
The autobahn was also a fun experience. As the average traffic flow at various points was 160kmh you won’t be surprised to hear I smashed my previous PB of 105kmh!
Yet while sightseeing in Berlin and tearing up the autobahn may be great fun, I have to remain focused on my primary goal – to fine tune the next stage of my preparation for Beijing. I enjoyed a great block of training during my last month of training before arriving in Europe. Many sessions were of the vomit-inducing variety, which will hopefully allow me to finish races strongly and recover quickly.
My speed during this phase was expected to drop, and it did slightly. However the training plan will start focusing on speed again soon and I have no doubt that by the time Worlds comes around I will be fitter and faster than ever.
The training facilities here in Leipzig are excellent. The LAZ Track Club boasts a 400m track, two weight rooms and an indoor 150m track with extremely banked bends. The staff at the LAZ club, are more than happy to have me, but I am still yet to meet the athletes. Apparently, Leipzig is home to some great athletes and my time of 49.72 in the 400m hurdles only ranks me third in the city! So I am hoping to meet up and train with the fast guys soon.
My first races out here take place on July 4 and July 11 when I will be running a 200m and 400m flat, respectively. I have added in a couple of flat sprints to sharpen my speed – and hopefully I can break my official 200m PB which currently stands at a modest 23.13! I typically only need a couple of 400m hurdles races to reach peak form and my first 400m hurdles race in Europe will be in Liege, Belgium on July 15. This race will be a chance for a good hit out, to help develop race fitness and make any changes that might be necessary ahead of the Morton Games in Dublin, where I’ll be targeting a PB. Last year at that same meet, the world 400m hurdles champion Jehue Gordon was beaten by home favourite Thomas Barr in a race which produced a pair of world-class times. This year I’m hoping the race will be similarly swift – only this time for a Kiwi to sneak through for the win. I’ll then be back in Belgium for my third and final scheduled 400m hurdles race of my European adventure.
In the shorter-term, I just have to focus on my training. Unfortunately, I’ve developed my third cold of the year which I hope will not prove too disruptive. I’m currently keeping my up to date with my coach, Angus Ross, via WhatsApp. The internet can be a little unreliable and as I have no voice at the moment because of the cold, I’ll keep Skype communication on hold for now.
I can really feel the anticipation starting to build ahead of the World Championships. The Bird’s Nest Stadium looks amazing and I can’t wait to get there. I know once I start running sub-50 seconds again my excitement levels will rise because then I will know I am capable of making the semi-final. Competing in a big stadium full of people will no doubt provide me with enough adrenaline to smash my PB and really surprise myself, and if I do well there I can also book my ticket for the 2016 Rio Olympics, too.
Michael

SIOSITINA HAKEAI - DISCUS (SELECTED FOR BEIJING WORLD CHAMPS)

10 June 2015
Heavy winter training is not always fun. To hit it hard in training every day at this time of year is as much a mental battle as it is physical, but at least I have a great incentive to work towards because since my last blog I secured selection for the World Championships in Beijing. It was a moment of huge relief and excitement.
In my last blog, I had written about my hope that selectors would take me to Beijing. I had not attained the World Championships standard of 61m but I had earned an invite from the IAAF after winning the Oceania Championships. Every day I was checking the Athletics NZ Facebook page anxiously awaiting news of the second wave of athletes selected to compete in Beijing.
Then one day last month - just before a training session in the gym at AUT Millennium - I checked my phone and my name was announced as part of the team. I was really excited. It felt like a rock had been lifted from my chest. Inspired by the news, I then carried out what must have been one of the best training sessions of my life.
After the session was over my phone started to ring and it was other people calling to congratulate me. I was really happy and grateful to be given the chance to compete against the world’s best throwers in the Bird’s Nest Stadium. It will be a great thrill.
Yet the elation was quickly replaced by a feeling of determination that I must repay the selectors faith in me.
The next step was a six-week heavy training block as prescribed by Matt, my coach.
Last year because I was competing at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, it was decided that we skip winter training to focus on fine tuning preparations for the European outdoor season with a lighter load, so because it is my first winter training block for two years it has been a shock to the system.
Training is bittersweet. I love the challenge of taking on heavy weights and a demanding schedule but at the same time I hate climbing out of bed sore knowing I face a really tough day ahead of me.
I’m currently three weeks into the block and I do feel much stronger. I hope and I am confident that when it comes to testing in the gym, I’ll be able to prove this my setting a few PB’s.
Yet the most important thing is my throwing and to be able to throw well and set PB’s in competition and I’ve also been working hard on my technique and improving my sweep in the circle. A faster sweep will help my speed in the circle, which is something I’ve needed to work on for some time now.
I’m happier with the progress I’ve made in this area. It is far more consistent.
Each day I am feeling the pain of training at the moment. I just have to tell my body to build a bridge and get over and one of the best ways to aid recovery is to have a daily ice bath. It is not something I look forward to – it is five minutes of hell. Often the only way I can get through it is by listening to music. I prefer something like Eminem to help block out the pain. The ice bath is by the swimming pool at AUT Millennium, so I have to be careful not to sing the Eminem lyrics because they are a lot of kids around and I might sing something inappropriate!
At the moment I just have to take training day by day, battle through the next three or four weeks before I switch to a lighter block of training in preparation for Beijing.
Hopefully all the hard work will count. I only plan one pre-World Championship competition in China before competing against the world’s best in Beijing. I don’t get too caught up in what other throwers are doing, I just tend to focus on myself and I hope to make that competition count in the Bird’s Nest Stadium.
Siositina

NICK SOUTHGATE - POLE VAULT (SELECTED FOR WORLD UNIVERSITY GAMES)

2 June 2015
What are the chances? I was warming up at the Oceania Championships in Cairns last month when for the third time in 14 months the pole snapped, instantly splitting the skin open from the base of my left hand through to the knuckle of my index finger.
At the time I was vaulting off the biggest pole I’d ever been on and I was feeling awesome. The first jump during warm up had gone well, and then in a flash disaster. When the pole snaps instinct kicks in. The immediate concern is your personal wellbeing and thankfully I landed on the safety mat.
Initially I felt gutted not to have the opportunity to vault it was only then later en route to the hospital the calculations started to run through my mind. Would I be ready in time for the World University Games, which at the time were a little over two months away?
Last year I split my hand in the same fashion in March and then again in May and those experiences had taught me that I could be back vaulting again within four weeks or so. I also knew that despite the injury, I could do pretty much every other form of training apart from vaulting during this period, so I would be able to maintain a good level of fitness. This filled me with hope.
Following the accident I was taken to hospital in Cairns and an orthopedic surgeon carried out the necessary procedure.
Some may argue that for this to happen three times in just over a year is more than a coincidence. My personal thoughts are that probably the first two snaps were avoidable and that my technique was not ideal for the carbon fibre poles I was using at the time. However, since than I have switched to the much more durable fibreglass poles, so I genuinely think on this latest occasion it was just bad luck.
I have to accept that such incidents are an inevitable risk of pole vaulting and move on.
To speed up the recovery process I have been seeing a hand physio specialist and each day I have been rubbing on massage oil. The scar has healed with only a red line of new skin visible and I hope to be given the all clear to start vaulting again in the next week.
In the meantime, training has progressed nicely. I’ve been ploughing through the track sessions and also devoting a little extra time to the plyometric work. I have managed to work on simulating the take-off phase of the vault by carrying out lots of high skips. I’ve even managed to do some one-arm vaulting from a short run up by planting the pole with my right hand and following through with a straight pole. This at least replicates the timing of the pole.
Away from the track, during I took a break to visit family in Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast over the Queen's Birthday Weekend. It was nice to be out of the cold of the New Zealand winter and a couple of days sat on the beach in temperatures of 26c was certainly welcome.
My preparation for the World University Games is far from ideal. I would obviously much rather have hoped not to have had to miss just over a month of vaulting, so close to my primary goal for the year. Technically, I have missed some time but I genuinely hope by June 24 - when we move on to the pre-Games holding camp in Brisbane - that I will be in good shape to compete by the time we arrive in Gwangju , Korea. The World University Games could be my first competition since my accident but what fills me with confidence that I can perform well there, is that I felt in great shape in Cairns until the pole snapped and that day too was my first competition for some time.
Nick

QUENTIN REW - RACE WALKER (SELECTED FOR BEIJING WORLD CHAMPS)

27 May 2015
As James Howill once wrote, no news is good news. He penned that in 1645, and was probably referring to the civil war ravaging England at that time, but it could equally be applied to Melbourne circa 2015. Since my last blog I’ve had a really good block of training, averaging about 190km a week, and at a good overall pace. Although I haven’t started doing any speed work in earnest, the fartlek and rep sessions I have done have been as good as at any time in my career. My part-time work is humming along nicely. I have some semblance of a regular routine. It doesn’t make for exciting stories, but this stability is the perfect environment in which to prepare for World Champs.
Of course the last month hasn’t been a totally monotonous beige blur. I’ve had some really good hit-outs, most notably the Great Ocean Road Marathon held last weekend. They call it a marathon, but the race was actually 44.6km – over 2km further than the regular marathon distance. In true Aussie style, the race organisers had to ensure that it started at a pub and finished at a pub. The pubs happened to be 44.6km apart, so that’s how long their ‘marathon’ is.
The scenery was spectacular, as the course wound along Victoria’s south coast along the most famous road in Australia. Even the weather was kind, with crisp morning sun perfectly complimenting the gentle waves, vast golden sand beaches and lightly forested cliffs. I walked the whole way with my training partner at a steady training pace, around 4:45 per km. We raced at a metronomic pace (the second half was 8 seconds faster than the first), which meant that we were overtaking increasingly distressed runners from early in the race. Many recognised us from the night before, as we were the subjects of a dinnertime ‘question and answer’ session hosted by marathon legend Steve Moneghetti. Steve was a great MC, and kept the conversation flowing, and when he opened questions up to the floor, audience members were much more interested in him than us! So the interviewer became the interviewee, which was predictable when the man in question has a full set of Commonwealth Games medals.
The questions that did come our way, and the comments on the road mid-race, gave an interesting reminder in outsiders’ perceptions of race walking. Most people approach race walking with a mix of curiosity and derision. If they’re unfamiliar with the sport, they will, without fail, be surprised at how fast we go. Despite this surprise, few will admit to being as impressed by a walker as they might be with an elite miler, hurdler or thrower. Somehow we come across as being fair game for jibes and taunts, both subtle (“gee, that must be hard on your hips!” – translation: you look ungainly) and blatant (usually via incomprehensible yelling from cars). Some people aggressively, yet incorrectly, try and guess my sexual orientation. Sadly, there are even some from within the wider athletics community who disregard race walking as some kind of inferior discipline. Of course, within any group there is some undercurrent of the “my sport is better than your sport” mentality – nobody would practise a sport if they thought that an alternative sport was superior. But we must be right up there with rhythmic gymnasts and synchronised swimmers as the most maligned event group around.
As with discrimination of any kind, the popular taunts don’t withstand rational scrutiny. Like in running, walking races are typically won by the athletes with the highest lactate threshold velocity – which is essentially a combination of efficiency and VO2max. The physiology is almost identical, the training is almost identical, the shoes are literally identical. But popular interest remains elusive, despite race walking having had a huge year (world records have been bettered in all three Olympic distances in the last 12 months. The men’s 20km record was lowered twice within a week). In any other event this would be massive news, but in this case it barely raised an eyebrow.
Having both race walked and run competitively, I can say that neither is harder or easier than the other. The two are different yet equal – but convincing the man on the street of that is another matter entirely.
Quentin

MICHAEL COCHRANE - 400M HURDLES (SELECTED FOR BEIJING WORLD CHAMPS)

19 May 2015
I had just finished a stair running session at Kennedy Park on Auckland’s North Shore on Monday only to find I had a number of missed calls and a voicemail message on my phone. I thought this is exciting, who can it be? Then when I played the message it was Scott Goodman, Athletics NZ High Performance Director, relaying to me the happy news that I had been selected to compete at the World Championships in Beijing.
It was such a relief to know that my primary aim of competing at my first ever World Championships had been secured. I was very excited and quickly rang my wife, Beth, and then my parents, all of whom will now be trying to secure tickets and travel over to Beijing to watch me run.
I had recently put a case forward to the selectors that I felt my personal best time of 49.72 (and joint New Zealand record) shows that I am capable of a top 16 finish in Rio. And in March - when I was hoping to peak at NZ Nationals and the Sydney Track Classic - I was sick.
It is nice to know the selectors have faith in me because I have not yet ran the World Championships qualification mark this year (the A standard in 49.50 and B standard 49.75) although I’m confident and fully believe I can achieve that mark. Now it is all about stepping up the next phase of my preparation, which means spending some time training and racing in Europe.
I decided some time ago not to compete at the World University Games in Korea. It was a tough decision because my times have shown I could have been in contention for a medal. Yet I believe my preparation will be greatly enhanced by getting several races under my belt in Europe.
The plan is to fly out to Leipzig in Germany in mid-June, where I will be based for a couple of weeks with Beth’s uncle. It will nice to be staying with someone who speaks the local language and I also have training track sorted at the local university.
I will then move on to be based in Leuven in Belgium and I have races scheduled for Liege and then on the Morton Games in Dublin. I will then hope to find a couple of other races to fine-tune my preparations for Beijing – where my aim and ambition is to finish top 16.
I’m happy with my overall form and fitness at the moment. I’ve worked hard on my speed endurance, which is an area I felt I was lacking in my training programme. Studying the top athletes I found I was running at an equal pace with them at 200m, but that I was losing on average a full second on them between 200-300m. I have worked hard on trying to rectify that by introducing more speed endurance into my programme - including a nasty a 12x200m hurdles session!
Earlier this month I had a one-off outing at the Oceania Championships and was pleased to seal the title in a time of 50.69. The original intention had been to race it like I was going for a PB – and I had hoped to run 13 strides to hurdle five. However, on the day the conditions were very windy and I opted to run 13 strides to hurdle three and then switch to 14 strides. I ran the race in a controlled fashion and I was pleased to execute a well paced race.
The trip to North Queensland was enjoyable. I travelled over with my father, Andy, and we hired a car and explored Cairns and the surrounding area. I also got to briefly see the six-time former world pole vault champion Sergey Bubka in unlikely circumstances. Sergey, who is hoping to become President of the IAAF later this year, was acting as a volunteer carrying the kit at the Oceania Championships. I passed him and thought, ‘is that Sergey Bubka?’ not believing he would be carrying kit only to discover later it was him. I am regretting now I didn’t act a bit quicker as I could have grabbed a photo with the pole vaulting legend.

More recently I got the opportunity to meet Prince Harry – which is not something I would expect to write in one of my blogs. My strength and conditioning coach, Angus Ross, from HPSNZ was asked if he would talk through the Vertical Eccentric machine (built by the Goldmine team at HPSNZ) that I use as part of my training and that I mentioned in my last blog. As I was the only one in the gym at the time I was asked to demonstrate to Prince Harry how to use it before the Prince himself had a go. We then went into the main Millennium area with All Black Kieran Read, a couple of Silver Ferns and a couple of international sailors. They were carrying out netball shooting and rugby passes with the Prince – who I had to admit was a little bit uncoordinated. We had a little bit of a laugh about it but he took it in good heart.
Michael

SIOSITINA HAKEAI - DISCUS (AIMING FOR BEIJING WORLD CHAMPS)

13 May 2015
Since my last blog I’ve won a national title, set a PB and collected a championship gold medal but I haven’t quite yet been able to fulfil my ambitions of qualifying for the World Championships. Not that all hope is lost in my desire to compete in Beijing and I’m optimistic after some encouraging recent results in the US that, should I win selection, I can perform well at the Bird’s Nest Stadium.
My domestic campaign was bittersweet. I was pleased to win a fourth successive national title and I felt I’d made progress technically in training, I was just frustrated that I could not piece everything together during a competition and the distances did not reflect my form.
To make matters worse my last competition of the domestic season at Aussie Nationals was probably my worst performance for some time. At my final practice session before I competed in Brisbane I really liked the way I was throwing – it felt so smooth. Yet on the day of competition in I was far too tense and could only throw 53m.
My confidence took a knock and I wondered whether I should bother travelling to the USA for a three week period of competition because I feared I’d be wasting people’s time. Yet thankfully I decided to travel and I’m really glad I did because I learned so much from the experience.
It was my first ever time to the US and to travel there with my coach, Matt, and training partners, Te Rina Keenan and Marshall Hall was very exciting. For the first part of the trip we were based out of Phoenix, Arizona and within a day of landing I was pitched into competition. I really enjoyed Arizona. The people were very friendly, everything was so cheap and, of course, the weather was very hot.
I competed twice there – throwing 56m on each occasion – which helped me build back some confidence after the disappointment of Brisbane. I also took a little time out to see the Grand Canyon. The views were amazing and it was probably the most spectacular sight I’ve seen in my life.
We then moved to Los Angeles for four further competitions. I don’t mind admitting I’m not a huge fan of LA. It is far too big and having experienced LA’s roads, I don’t think I’ll ever complain about Auckland traffic again!
I’m glad to say my form improved during our stay in California. I threw a personal best of 59.81m to finish third in Chula Vista and backed it up the following day with a 58.93m effort in La Jolla.
It is always nice to set a personal best – even though it only added 0.16m to my previous best set in Hamilton last year. My legs felt really quick in the circle – which is something I’ve been working on – and the throw itself felt effortless. I was stoked. More than that what my last two competitions in the US proved to me was that anyone can have an off day. In La Jolla, I beat both Gia Lewis-Smallwood, the 2014 world number two, and the 2008 Olympic champion Stephanie Brown Trafton, which put into perspective the disappointment I had felt when performing under-par in Brisbane.
I returned back from America for short spell back in New Zealand only to fly on to Australia for the Oceania Championships in Cairns. We decided to compete in Queensland because if I knew if I won there I would be given an automatic invitation to the World Championships, which would help my case with the NZ selectors.
The distance was not what I was looking for (Siositina threw a best of 56.06m) but it was mission accomplished in terms of the win.
The next step is to convince selectors I’m worthy of a place on the team for Beijing. I have an invite to compete, but I fell short of the qualification standard of 61.00m. My performances in the US proved I can compete against the best on back-to-back days. I enjoy the thrill and the buzz of competing against the best throwers and I believe it brings the best out in me.
Before then it is back to the reality of winter training not to mention the cold Auckland chill which came as a shock after the heat of America and Australia!
Siositina

HOLLY ROBINSON - JAVELIN (AIMING FOR IPC ATHLETICS DOHA WORLD CHAMPS)

30 April 2015
Having enjoyed a lighter training period while in competition phase during January/February/March, it is always a shock to the system to return to the heavy training load which my body has endured over the past three weeks.
As readers of my blog will know the domestic campaign went well and I took a week’s rest at the end of the season to recharge the batteries. I managed to enjoy a few days in my home town of Hokitika to catch up with family and friends. Hokitika is such a small place, where everybody knows everyone, and it sometimes took a good 45 minutes to get through the supermarket because people wanted to stop and chat and wish me well.
After a great summer in which I bettered my PB several times, I was raring to return to training for the upcoming block because I can remember how much this period of training benefited me last season.
My coach, Raylene, has adjusted the training from previous years to include more strength, jumps and speed work into my programme. My strength is better than in the past but still needs to be developed and part of that is trying to strengthen my left side and upper body. This is obviously not an easy task as I am missing my left arm but with the help of my HPSNZ strength and conditioner, Michael Jacobs, we are working on a number of new exercises, to increase my strength and motor patterning on my left side. Two lifts that are new to my program are split jerks and snatches, which have been difficult to do in the past, however, advancements in my prosthetic lifting arm have allowed me to add these new lifts into my training.
The whole training squad has benefited from sprint work and we’ve identified this as an area in which can reap rewards. I haven’t done a heap of sprinting in the past, but more sprint work (from anywhere from 50m to 150m) introduced into the training schedule will improve my power and speed, which can hopefully transfer into the javelin.
I’m also trialling a change in the days that I train. Previously my programme ran from a Sunday to a Friday but at the moment the schedule is Monday through to a Friday which allows two days of rest and recovery on a weekend. It is too early to tell how this is progressing, but I guess we will have a better idea at the end of the current eight-week block of training.
Away from the track I’ve been very busy recently – in fact, last weekend was the first I had spent at home for six weeks, as my flat-mates reminded me! One weekend I was on a work placement as part by university degree at the Torpedo 7 Naseby 12 Hour Challenge - a gruelling mountain bike challenge. I was there to help with registrations and timing and it was fun, although I can’t say I’m much a mountain biker myself. Another weekend I went to Wellington as part of an event called Give it a Go run by the Amputees Federation of New Zealand. We did a heap of activities such as white water rafting, kayaking and rock climbing which ran in conjunction with the national conference where we got to meet the Governor-General of New Zealand.
Back in Dunedin the university work is starting to build and the colder weather is starting to arrive. I’m definitely a person who prefers the warmer temperatures, so when we had an early bout of snow and cold in the city earlier this month (April) I certainly didn’t appreciate it.
Yet my main focus remains Doha in October when the weather, for sure, will be much warmer. Not a day goes by when I’m not thinking about the IPC World Championships. That is what I’m tracking towards and what motivates me in training every day.
Holly

NICK SOUTHGATE - POLE VAULT (SELECTED FOR WORLD UNIVERSITY GAMES)

22 April 2015
Since my last blog I’ve wrapped up what was a very satisfying summer season with a third place finish at Australian Champs and I’ve returned back to a heavy block of training in preparation for July’s World University Games in Korea.
However, the type of training I’m currently undertaking is slightly modified compared to what I would typically do at this time of year because I’m competing as a one-off competition at the Oceania Area Championships in Cairns at the beginning of next month. So my coach (Jeremy McColl) and I have to be mindful not to get too bogged down in a training block which is too heavy.
The main target of the year remains the World University Games in Gwangju but the Oceania Championships form an important part of my preparation. The aim in Queensland is simply to win – an ambition which is more than achievable, especially since many of the big name Aussie vaulters will not be there. The competition also gives me the chance to implement some technical changes I’ve been working on and it also offers a nice distraction from the rigours of training.
However, there is an additional motivation to compete in Cairns as there is the possibility if I win and achieve other criteria to gain a wildcard slot for the World Championships in Beijing.
Yet that is for the future and at the moment my sole focus is on training which entails vaulting every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I have a small track session every Monday and more demanding track sessions on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday plus four weights sessions per week.
It is no great secret that running is a common weakness of mine (Nick is a mid-11 second 100m sprinter), so this is something I’m currently working hard at improving because speed and power is something which can go a long way towards improving my vault. I’ve been working on faster reps in distance from 20m to 200m and it has been nice to train with Livvy Wilson, a sprinter, who has also been selected to compete at the Oceania Championships. This offers a good incentive to run harder. Yes, and since you ask I usually finish in front of Livvy, although not by much!
From a vaulting perspective there are always so many different factors to work on. My push off the pole has never been the greatest, so I’ve really been looking to hone this area in an effort to gain as much power from the top of the pole as possible. To measure this we compare grip heights with bar height and what this shows is my push-off is about 70cm whereas some of the top guys can reach up to a metre.
It is quite a tricky skill to master because you have to get so many other elements technically right earlier in the jump before you are in the correct position to push off. To aid the quantity of technical work I can do we recently rolled out the downhill runway that Jeremy built with a little bit of assistance here and there from me a couple of years ago.
The runway is set at a five degree decline which allows vaulters the chance to do more jumps without reaching same level of fatigue and it has proved a very useful training tool.
Even at a five degree angle – which doesn’t sound much – the speed you can generate even off four or six strides is significant and this allows for us to use bigger poles during training sessions.
Away from the track and I quietly celebrated my 21st birthday on April 9. We had a family breakfast on the morning and my parents bought me my first suit – a navy blue Gibson Suit which I bought from a store on Auckland’s trendy High Street. I tried to keep the day as normal as possible and I went to training as usual, although I think Jeremy took it easy on me by giving me a slightly easier session!
I haven’t had the time to even think about a party although on the Friday of that week my family took me out to eat at a Chinese restaurant in Ponsonby which was pretty cool.
I look forward to sharing my experiences from the Oceania Championship experiences in my next blog.
Nick

QUENTIN REW - RACE WALKER (SELECTED FOR BEIJING WORLD CHAMPS)

15 April 2015
Since packing up my life from Yorkshire in July last year, I’ve been constantly on the move. In those nine months my travels have taken me through Greece, Turkey, Rhode Island, Canada, Colorado, China, back to New Zealand, Australia, New Zealand again, Australia again, Texas and Mexico. Now my feet are on the ground, and I’ve finally managed to unpack my suitcase in Melbourne.
Melbourne has always held an attraction, both for its general liveability and its vibrant racewalking scene. We decided to move here for a few reasons, with training being at the forefront – and so far the city has not disappointed! We’re hugely indebted to the Erickson family, who gave us food, shelter, transport and a whole lot more in our first few weeks of being here. Life is certainly much easier and enjoyable when you have friends looking out for you! Having that ‘home away from home’ allowed us some stress-free time to find the basics: a job and a place to live.
I’ve landed a part time job working as an occupational physiotherapist – travelling to different worksites to assess and treat a range of people in a range of jobs. The work is diverse and interesting, and is only part-time, which allows me to train and recover fully. It takes up a fair amount of time driving, but that means I get to see parts of the city I wouldn’t otherwise see.
We’ve found a great apartment in the inner suburbs, which is just a couple of kilometres away from Melbourne’s eclectic CBD, and everything that it has to offer. I can see the MCG from my bedroom, which is usually a good thing, but was something of an eyesore for the few days after the cricket world cup final. At least we got a good view of the post-match fireworks!
The apartment is also right next to some beautiful gardens, and the interminable Yarra River, both of which offer excellent training venues. I’m meeting regularly with an elite group of athletes, as well as a world renowned coach, and training is going superbly well. My main training partner has PBs which are slightly quicker than my own, which is basically the best I could ask for; and the coach has a wealth of experience, including coaching Olympic medallists and world champions. I really have fallen on my feet with the people I’m teaming up with!
The other aspect of my current patch of good training is down to a surprisingly quick recovery from the 50km I raced last month. Previous 50km races have taken months to fully recover from, but I’ve been able to commence excellent training already, which is testament to being fitter than I’ve ever been. My form is even more surprising given that it’s still four months until World Champs, and training intensity is only just picking up. Athletics is taking front and centre stage for the next few months, and I’m looking forward to period of stability and unbroken training. No traveling, no racing, just getting as fit and efficient as possible in the months leading into World Champs.
The road to Beijing got a lot more real last week, when I was announced in the New Zealand team, racing in both the 20km and 50km race walks. It’s a huge honour and privilege to represent my country in such an amazing competition, especially to do so in two events. The rest of the team boasts an exciting mix of youth and experience, which makes me a bit of a black sheep, since I don’t have much of either. The team make-up is certainly quite different to teams I’ve made in the past – I’ve never even met half of my team mates – which makes the prospect all the more exciting. I’m really looking forward to this competition, and I think it will bring my best ever international results.
Quentin

MICHAEL COCHRANE - 400M HURDLES (AIMING FOR BEIJING WORLD CHAMPS)

8 April 2015
Reflecting on my summer season it can perhaps best be summed up as a bittersweet experience. I won three of my four 400m hurdles races, recording two of my six fastest times ever but fell some way short of my ultimate ambition to secure the World Championship qualification mark of 49.50. I knew I was in the best shape of my life in Adelaide (which Mike won on Feb 21 in 50.15) and the only shame was I didn't have anyone in that race to help pull me through to a quicker time. I take confidence from the fact I reached such a high level of fitness but performance-wise I'm gutted my shape did not reflect a better time.
In my last blog I had shared how disappointed I was to have to pull out of the New Zealand Track & Field Championships with a cold and I was seeking a good performance at the Sydney Track Classic on March 15.
Unfortunately, although the physical symptoms of the cold had gone by race day in Sydney I felt lacking in energy during the warm up and decided to readjust my race plan accordingly - to aim for a time in around 52 seconds. Instead of aiming for 13 strides up until hurdles three of four I converted back to 14 strides after hurdles two. I recorded 51.95 which is about what I expected and I at least I had the consolation of placing second and earning some prize money. However, during the race I was watching Cameron French out front and it did cross my mind that my New Zealand record might be vulnerable.
Initially, Cam was credited with a time of 49.74 – 0.02 shy of my New Zealand record – however when the time was officially confirmed it came up at 49.72 and he had matched my record. He initially looked a little disappointed when he crossed the line, although when I pointed out we were now both joint record holders we both laughed and he seemed a little happier!
Although Cameron is a big rival of mine it is great to have him around here in New Zealand. We both have very different strengths and whereas he is more speed-based I'm much more of a pure hurdler which leads to some very interesting racing which can differ depending on the conditions of the day.
The Sydney Track Classic brought an end to my competitive summer season, which was always the plan. I felt last year my summer season carried on three of four weeks longer and this left me feeling tired later in the year.
Just two days after the Sydney meeting I returned to winter training and so far training has gone well with the emphasis on more strength and aerobic work.
On the strength side I've bumped up my weight training from two sessions per week to three to three-and-a-half. The Millennium Institute has a great new piece of equipment called the Eccentric machine – which research has shown aids power. I've also started work on deadlifts and clean pulls areas I wasn't able to develop last winter because I was nursing a bad back. Now that the back is fine and I'm once again devoting more time in the gym the strength is developing nicely.
Those of you who had read my previous blogs will know I've tried to increase the aerobic work in more recent times with a weekly 2km run followed by strides. More recently I've supplemented that by introducing a 5-6km run – at a pace of between 3-3:30 per kilometres – followed by either a stair climb, hills or sand dune work. It is a high-load, high-volume sessions and although it leaves me feeling very fatigued the improvements and gains made from such sessions are far greater than for a sprint workout.
Between sessions I really enjoyed watching the Cricket World Cup and following the progress of the Black Caps – particularly as I used to go to school with both Kane Williamson and Trent Boult.
I went to Pillans Point Primary School with Kane, who was a year older than me and at Otumoetai College with Trent who was two years older. It was obvious back then that both would be future stars at cricket, although it was also evident that I had little hope of representing the Black Caps. I was often positioned in the outfield and even if I caught somebody out and went into bat I usually didn't last long out in the middle. I think athletics was always the best option!
The summer season may be over but I've decided to return to competition as a one-off at the Oceania Championships in Cairns, Australia in early May. The carrot here is that should I win there I will be given an invitation by the IAAF to compete at the World Championships and although I will still need to meet a qualification standard to be selected it does present another potential route for me to make it to the Beijing which remains my main goal for the summer.
Michael

HOLLY ROBINSON - JAVELIN (AIMING FOR IPC ATHLETICS DOHA WORLD CHAMPS)

2 April 2015
After competing at Aussie Nationals, which was my final event of the summer, I can reflect on a season which was my best yet. Never before in the course of a season have I had more than one PB but over the past three months I’ve enjoyed multiple PB’s and performed better than ever. Moving forward and looking ahead to October’s IPC World Championships in Doha I’m excited, but I need to remember that what helped me achieve those PB’s was the excellent winter block of training I put in last year which helped lay the groundwork for my form.
Since my last blog I’ve competed in two big competitions beginning with the New Zealand Track & Field Championships in Wellington, which proved to be the best comp of my career. This seemed an unlikely prospect when I was sat in the hotel on the afternoon of the meet looking out at the wet and windy weather. Thankfully by the time I took to the runway the rain had stopped and although it was very windy – like Wellington so often is – the conditions did not seem to impact on my performance. Four of my throws were beyond my previous PB with a best of 37.88m. Job done.
Following nationals I returned to Dunedin for a week, but because the track at the Caledonian Ground was being ripped up I trained for most of the time in the gym before heading out to Brisbane for two weeks to prepare for Aussie Nationals.
It was a cool experience in Queensland. I stayed with two other para-athletes – Anna Grimaldi and Caitlin Dore - in an apartment at a holiday village. It was a perfect set up. We had a swimming pool to aid recovery and the training track and gym were together at the same complex only five minutes drive away.
However, it was so hot and it took several days to get used to temperatures of 30-35c. I struggled with the heat at night when I found sleep difficult for the first few days because we were wary of flicking on the air conditioning and picking up any potential bugs.
We trained most days at 10.30am - before the most intense heat of the day – but it was good preparation for the conditions we would face at the Australian Championships.
While the purpose of the trip was to add the finishing touches to our preparations for the summer season and the Aussie Champs I did enjoy the massive bonus of seeing Ed Sheeran live. I am a huge fan and when I realised I would be in Brisbane at the same time as the musician would be performing I thought I have to see him. I missed out on tickets for his original show but after he added an additional live performance I managed to buy tickets. Six of us went along to the show including Anna (Grimaldi) and the New Zealand javelin record holder Tori Peeters. We were not too sure we’d made the right decision after heavy tropical rain hit the city that afternoon and persisted throughout the warm up acts. But thankfully by the time Ed came on the rain had stopped and he put on a great show. He was awesome.
The Aussie Nationals went well. I won a silver medal (I finished behind an athlete in a different classification) but managed to beat my Australian rival Madeleine Hogan, the two-time Paralympic bronze medallist for the first time. We competed at midday and the temperature was very hot, so to be able to beat Madeleine even thought she has just returned from injury was a big confidence boost. Personally, I didn’t quite nail a big throw but I performed quite well with a best of 36.62m
The day after Australian Championships around a dozen of us were given a day off and the chance to hit Movie World. For me, this was a huge deal because it was the first time I’d ever been to a theme park and it was the first time I’d sat on a rollercoaster.
My favourite ride was the Arkham Asylum – an upside down rollercoaster where your legs are dangling out the bottom. I loved it, although Caitlin Gore and Ben Anderson looked a little green after the ride and were reluctant to try it again.
Since returning back to Dunedin after my Australian adventure has been a reality check. A pile of university work needs to be complete and the temperature back in the South Island has been a shock to the system.
I’m currently enjoying a week’s rest before I return to the hard slog of winter training in preparation for Doha. My goals remain the same. I’ve always wanted a podium finish, although my summer season has raised the bar in terms of the distance I would like to throw 38m or 39m.. The other great element to the para-programme in New Zealand over the past year or so has been the development of so many quality athletes including long jumper Anna Grimaldi. Her success is awesome and she acts as both a motivation and inspiration to help me perform better.

Holly

NICK SOUTHGATE - POLE VAULT (AIMING FOR WORLD UNIVERSITY GAMES)

24 March 2015
Having just come off he back of what I believe was the best competition of my career, I can look forward with great optimism for the rest of the year. Earlier this month at the Sydney Track Classic I added 0.05m to my lifetime best with a big clearance at 5.35m and I'm now looking forward to flying back across the Tasman to compete at the Australian nationals in Brisbane this weekend.
So far this season, I couldn't ask for much more. I've had two PB's and improved by 0.15m, but I think what encourages me most is the fact that I was so close to clearing 5.45m in Sydney (I brushed the bar with my chest on my third attempt), which fills me with excitement that bigger jumps are just around the corner for me.
Earlier this season at both the Auckland Track Challenge and the Auckland Championships I showed promise, but I was not quite nailing the jumps. Yet from the warm up in Sydney I felt I was vaulting well from a softer pole. Then during the competition,competing on my second stiffest pole, I contined to vault well and at a good trajectory.
I managed to clear 5.35m by a sizeable margin and my close attempt at 5.45m brings into range the possibility making the team for the World Championships in Beijing. To guarantee selection I would need 5.65m, which is a very big ask.
However, after I bring my 'summer season' to an end in Brisbane I then plan to compete at the Oceania Championships in Cairns in May, where the extra incentive of a wildcard place for the World Championships will be on offer for the winner. If I secure this spot and leap 5.55m+ before August 10 – and remember I also hope to compete at World Unis in Korea in July – there is a chance I will then be considered for selection for Beijing.
My immediate focus, though, is on performing to the best of my ability in Brisbane where I face off against the cream of Aussie vaulters. It may sound a little odd, but I often feel less pressure competing against the better Australian athletes than I would for a domestic competition here in New Zealand, when I am often ahead of the pack.
I feed off the energy of being involved in a tight competition and if one of the Aussies clears a height it acts as a incentive for me to match them. I'm looking forward to the challenge where my ranking puts me up there as one of the main hopefuls. Hopefully we'll experience some good weather and I can channel my recent confidence into performing to my best, but although jumping the big heights are nice my first ambition is simply to win.
Yet before I even arrive in Australian let me tell you that heading overseas to any meeting as a pole vaulter can present its challenges – as simply ensuring the poles arrive safely can sometimes prove a bit of a headache! On my recent trip out to Sydney the pole were transported seamlessly on their way out to Australia yet as I was travelling with a different airline on the way back and it required a little bit of a re-jig in the cargo hold to squeeze them in.
Hopefully the forthcoming trips to Australia, Korea and maybe beyond will not present too many difficulties, but as a vaulter you are always crossing your fingers there will be no complications and the poles will arrive safely.
As a huge devotee of the pole vault, I can't let my latest blog go without making mention of the phenomenal form of Olympic champion and world record holder Renaud Lavillenie.
Already this year the French vaulting maestro has cleared 6m on five separate occasions, which is incredible and I draw inspiration from the fact he competes so regularly and he is so willing to put himself on the line. Already this season he has competed ten times and in some respects I've taken a leaf out of the Lavillenie book by trying to compete more often in an effort to get in the groove and find my best form.
Yet I can also find inspiration and confidence much closer to home. New Zealand sport is riding high at the moment and enjoying a great period of success whether on the rugby field, rowing lake, cricket pitch or basketball court. This tells me that the high performance sporting programmes in New Zealand are in great order, which is definitely something which fills me with optimism and belief when I also go out and compete.

 

QUENTIN REW - RACE WALKER (AIMING FOR BEIJING WORLD CHAMPS)

17 March 2015
I’ve made no secret of the fact I intend to ‘do the double’ at World Champs later this year – that is, to race in both walking events. The men’s 20km and 50km race walks will be six days apart in Beijing, and that should be just enough time to recover properly, and have a good crack at each event. I wanted to be sure though, especially since the 50km – my better event – comes second. The only way to test it out properly would be to attempt it, and the only way to attempt it involved a fortnight in North America, which I have recently undertaken.
I flew from my Melbourne base into Texas, and boy it was cold – especially compared to where I had come from. Just a few days before flying out, I raced in Adelaide’s searing heat. The ‘warm up’ in Adelaide involved two ice-vests and a 10 minute plunge in cold water, which was an attempt to mitigate the draining effects of the scorching heat, in the driest continent’s driest state. The cooling mechanisms must have been successful, as I was able to claim a silver medal in the Oceania 20km Champs, without pushing hard, or jeopardising the important fortnight to follow.
When I landed in Texas it was about 4°C. In the following days it would drop to -6°C, and with snow and wind-chill on top of that, it felt even colder. Training was colder than at any time in my two years in Yorkshire, and I was glad to be doing relatively low mileage, simply because it meant relatively little time outdoors. By the time the race came around, road travel was restricted by ice, and the taxi that was to take me to the race couldn't come. I discovered this less than two hours before the start, which was about 10km away. Fiddlesticks! The time was 6:15a.m, so it probably took longer than it should have for my sleepy brain to figure out the only option was to walk there. So I did. Along a freeway. Accompanied by slushy snow. In the dark. Surprisingly though, I felt fine during the race, and performed reasonably well. The race was a half marathon (21.1km), but the first kilometre was so congested it was impossible to race. That left the remaining 20-ish kilometres as a good hard hit out, marginally outside my 20km PB. More importantly, it fulfilled the first half of the trip, which was to get some realistic fatigue in my legs, and see how it might affect a 50km six days later.
Weather conditions for the previous two weeks’ races had brought extreme heat and snow, and now I was tackling a totally different challenge: altitude. I had trained but never raced at altitude, and I was anxious to see how I might go racing 50km. Would I be able to breathe? Would I blow up it the second half of the race? Could I hope to match my mountain-dwelling competitors from Mexico and Ecuador, for whom 1450m above sea level is like a holiday? I’ve been around the sport long enough to know it does no good hypothesising, doubting and second-guessing – the only thing to do was to clear my head and give a good honest effort. Still, I admit to having nagging doubts when I passed through 10km in 46:45, and feeling easy. The next 10km was faster and still comfortable, and I was confident enough to continue to forge ahead and finish the race hard. I moved through the field to finish fourth, less than two minutes outside my PB. It was more than that though: the final lap was by far my fastest, and considering the altitude it was a competitive time. There’s no doubt now that I can race both races in Beijing, and no reason I won’t be competitive in both.
Now it’s back to Melbourne and back to some semblance of normality: finding a job and a place to live, and getting back into some good quality training. I don’t have any race plans for the next few months, and I intend to use this unbroken training period to put in some good quality mileage, so when I get to World Champs I’ll hit the ground running - or at least walking quickly.
Quentin

MICHAEL COCHRANE - 400M HURDLES (AIMING FOR BEIJING WORLD CHAMPS)

10 March 2015
For my latest blog I'm disappointed to write that an untimely cold caused me to withdraw from the New Zealand Track & Field Championships at the weekend. To opt out of competing in Wellington was not a decision I reached easily, but, to be honest, the morning after I paced the 800m at the Auckland Track Challenge I started to feel low on energy levels and it has only been in the past day or so that I have started to feel a little better.
I was really looking forward to racing Cameron (French) in the 400m hurdles for the first time this season, but I decided 48 hours before we were due to compete to pull out of the event. It was tough decision, but I think it was the right decision.
I hope to re-start training again tomorrow and then the intention is to fly out to compete in Sydney this weekend, where I'll get the opportunity to finally race Cameron, who ran a decent time (of 50.28) in winning the Nationals. 
It is quite concerning to have suffered a cold in the heart of the season – just when I was hoping to reach a peak. In fact, the only people to have really benefited from his the setback has been my local Countdown store, who will be delighted at the amount of Smoothies and orange juice I have bought over the past week from them in an effort to shift a very stubborn cold.
I haven't trained for around ten days and although I'm starting to feel a little better I have to be realistic. To lose ten days of training is far from ideal and rather than chasing the World Championship qualification mark of 49.50, I'm purely going to focus my efforts on winning the race. I must not panic. I've got to remain confident that I have already shown good form this season to run well in Sydney and I hope to be fresh enough to do so.
There is still plenty of time. The deadline for achieving the World Championships qualification mark is not until August 10 and I always intended to finish my summer campaign in mid-March with the Sydney meeting.
The advantage of finishing my season prematurely is I can enjoy one month more of hard training working on my endurance, heavy lifting and hurdling technique than I typically would.. This will hopefully allow me to come out firing on all cylinders at the World University Games and at two or three meets that follow in an effort to snag that World Championship qualification time.
Looking in the shorter term, I certainly hope for better at Sydney than I experienced at the same meet 12 months ago. There I decided to take on board baking soda tablets, a pre-race approach adopted by many hurdlers to raise blood PH levels which can have the advantage of delaying the effects of lactic acid when racing. This can often help athletes in the latter stages of races, however, it doesn't work for everyone and I had a very bad experience in Sydney. I found that the baking soda caused me to cramp quite badly in the call room before the race, which spread into my chest and I found breathing difficult. Thankfully a doctor was on hand to arrive with some orange juice which is quite acidic and offset the effects of the baking soda - an alkaline. Luckily the worst effects of the cramping settled down, but I was so fatigued by the time of the race I ran 52.89 and finished seventh - more than three seconds slower than my national record! Let's just say I'm hoping for better this weekend and with a lesson learned I'll never try taking on board baking soda before a race again! 
Away from the track in the middle of February I started a graduate diploma in ecology and biology at Massey University. As readers of my previous blogs will know I'm a keen birdwatcher and ecology and biology is a subject matter I find really fascinating. So to find out a little more behind the science behind it all is very interesting.
Also in February I and a group of Auckland-based athletes were given the opportunity to meet Seb Coe, the former two-time Olympic 1500m champion and world record holder for 800m. Seb arrived for a few days in New Zealand as part as of his global campaign in his bid to win the race to be the next IAAF President and it was really cool to be given the chance to meet him. I knew of Seb, and I was aware he was a legend in the sport. Yet even I was surprised when I read that his PB for 800m was 1:41.73 – that is really moving.
Michael

Pre NZ Track & Field Championship blogs

With the New Zealand Track & Field Championships just days away our five bloggers update on where they are at and their hopes and expectations for the prestigious meet in Wellington.

Holly Robinson – Para-javelin ace hoping to maintain outstanding form in Wellington

I go into New Zealand Track & Field Championships full of confidence and raring to compete having just enjoyed the best three weeks of my career so far.
At Porritt Classic in Hamilton, I bettered my personal best by 0.69m - set in Beijing last year - with a 36.27m throw. Then at Canterbury Championships I threw 36.49m to continue my recent improvement.
A big factor in my positive run of performances I attribute to my psychological approach to competitions – an area I have received some assistance from mental skills trainer Natalie Van Leeuwen. I frequently get caught up during competitions in multiple technical aspects, which sometimes only serve to confuse when I throw. What Nat has taught me is to focus on just one aspect, which is having the desired effect. I'm throwing very consistently as also illustrated by the fact that between Porritt and Canterbury Championships I threw 35.58 at Otago Championships – to match my previous PB set in Beijing 2014.
I move on to national championships excited by what I can do. The main priority is to defend my para-title and be competitive in the open senior women's category and while I don't like to fixate on a distance - for me to go out and throw a PB of 37m something would be awesome.

Siositina Hakeai – Is seeking to find the rhythm in a top quality discus battle

I'm feeling good and training well, but unfortunately I've been struggling with my rhythm in the circle in recent weeks. At the Waikato/BoP Championships in Hamilton last month I was really happy for my training partner, Te Rina Keenan, who threw a PB of 60.78m but I was very frustrated with the way I performed (Siositina threw 55.53m).
I just feel like I am trying to force a 60m throw instead of relaxing and it just happening. The good news is I've been in this situation before and I know I can turn it around quickly. Two weeks out from the Commonwealth Games I was also struggling with my rhythm but I worked hard on my technique and with the help of my coach Matt Dallow we manged to fix the problem. In Glasgow I then threw well to claim fourth spot, so that fills me with optimism my rhythm can return again soon. I also performed better at the Auckland Track Challenge to win with 57.99m, so I know my form is heading in the right direction.
I'm feeling healthier having now lost 10kg since I started a strict diet back in November and I am a lot faster in the circle.
Winning the New Zealand title for the fourth successive time would mean a lot to me. It will be no easy task with Te Rina in great form, but I'm looking forward to the competition in Wellington and I'm hungry for success.

Michael Cochrane – The National 400m hurdles record holder is looking forward to his tasty clash with Cameron French.

Since my last Athletics NZ blog, I've claimed three victories in my three 400m hurdles and a quicker time in each outing so it is safe to say I'm feeling very satisfied with my preparations for New Zealand Track & Field Championships.
I started out with a solid 50.95 in Hobart and although I ran much quicker in Canberra (50.21), I don't think I've ever finished a race so puffed and feeling quite so exhausted. One factor which may have contributed to this was the slight altitude of the Australian capital, but it is more likely that my endurance was lacking because the main focus during the winter months was working on and developing my speed and strength.
The performance in Canberra forced me into a back to basics approach to endurance training. Now twice a week I go out for a 2km run at full speed before I run 6x100m at maximum speed on the track. It is hardly a scientific approach to training, but I definitely feel it has helped me feel a lot stronger for my next outing in Adelaide two weeks later.
In South Australia I ran 50.15 – the fifth fastest time in my career – and although it was only marginally quicker than in Canberra I felt comparitively like I had a lot more to give at the end of the race and it fills me with optimism that a sub-50 second time is just around the corner.
Leading into nationals I'm looking forward to the challenge and taking on Cameron French, who has been in outstanding form (Cameron ran a PB of 50.04 at Auckland Championships to move up to number four on the all-time NZ lists for the event) and I'm sure the fact we are racing each other will only bring the best out of each of us. I was disappointed last year to miss out on the title to Cameron, I have never won a national 300m hurdles or 400m hurdles crown, so it would be nice for it to happen this year.

Nick Southgate – New Zealand men's pole vault number is hoping to regain his national crown.

Leading into nationals, I'm pleased with my form so for this season. I've performed consistently well, produced the two best vaults of my life (his PB of 5.30m was set at Capital Classic in January) and I'm excited at the prospect of potentially regaining my title.
I was crowned champion in 2012 and 2013, but missed out on the hat-trick last year after injury denied me the chance to compete. As I showed with my performance at Capital Classic, Newtown Park is a good venue for me and one realistic target at nationals would be to better the current championship record held by Paul Gibbons at 5.25m.
I'm fortunate in that I usually manage to control my nerves fairly well on competition days and I try to keep a consistent routine. I will fly down the day before my event on the Saturday but as I am a huge track and field fan there is nothing more I enjoy than to catch a bit of the action and I'm really looking forward to the men's 400m and men's 400m hurdles races.
On the competition day itself I will try and relax by listening to some music. I'm a big Coldplay fan but then closer to the competition I might listen to something a little more aggressive like Rage Against the Machine to get me pumped and into the zone. Another part of my pre-event routine is to have a cold shower in an effort to fire up the nervous system!

Quentin Rew – Race Walking star send his good luck message

I haven’t attended NZT&F Champs since 2011, which is a shame, as it’s such a fun and well executed weekend of athletics. I hoped to make it this year, but my racing schedule has me in Mexico instead. So while you’re all savouring the last of summer with some world class athletics, I’ll be enduring a chilly spring morning in an elevated dustbowl, racing hammer and tongs for the best part of four hours. Of course, it is a huge privilege to be racing overseas (thanks Athletics NZ!), but part of me wishes I could be on my home track, giving it death to compete for an overdue national title. If nothing else, I’d love to be a spectator at the champs, with such high quality fields throughout the meet. I’ll await results with interest, especially with a few mouth-watering head to head battles looming (men’s shot, women’s discus, plus 800m, 1500m and 5000m for both genders spring to mind). For those competing: good luck, compete well, and remember Baron de Coubertin’s Olympic ideal “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”

 

 

NICK SOUTHGATE - POLE VAULT (AIMING FOR WORLD UNIVERSITY GAMES)

10 February 2015
As an athlete there is no greater feeling than achieving a PB. It is what we strive for and why we regularly push ourselves through the pain barrier in pursuit of excellence. So to add 0.10m on to my lifetime best with 5.30m at the Capital Classic in Wellington last month was immensely pleasing.
It also secured me the A standard for the World University Games in Korea – my main competitive goal for the year - and elevated me to number two on the all-time New Zealand rankings. It was a height of some significance.
As readers of my previous blog will know, last season ended abruptly through injury. However, back then my form was good and I believe my early season form this year is just a continuation of where I was at last year.
I jumped 4.80m in Auckland on December 19 off a 12-stride run-up – my full run-up is 18 strides – which showed I was in reasonable nick. Then at the Potts Classic in Hastings last month - in my first competition of the year - I was encouraged to jump 5.10m and also have three narrow failures at 5.20m. Each effort at this height my hips were way over the bar but I just nipped the bar with my chest and it unfortunately dislodged.
This showed I had the potential to go higher and I’m glad to say in Wellington I went on to prove that. Newtown Park has always been a venue I’ve enjoyed competing at. The mats were switched around to face the grandstand to ensure we had a tailwind. I struggled at 5.10m – needing the third attempt to clear – before moving straight on to 5.30m, which I achieved at the second time of asking.
People have asked me where the improvement has come from and I think jumping on a slightly stiffer pole has made a difference but also the additional quality technical sessions I’ve experienced with my coach, Jeremy McColl, has also contributed.
I’m happy to have vaulted 5.30m in my second competition of the year, but I’m hungry for more. I believe there is much more in the tank once I get on to a bigger pole and start hitting my rhythm.
However, there are no guarantees in a technical event like the pole vault and it just didn’t click for me in the way that I wanted at Porritt Classic last Saturday – where I vaulted 5.25m but found 5.35m beyond me.
In the coming weeks the competitions come thick and fast. I’ll be in Waitakere for the Auckland Track Challenge towards the end of the month and then I’ll have NZ nationals before heading over to Australia for the Sydney Track Classic and Aussie Nationals.
It is always a tricky time in terms of juggling the competitive demands and maintaining your power and speed gained from the hard winter months of training. However, I hope to be able to walk that line in the coming weeks, where I will have half-an-eye on the New Zealand national record of 5.51m held by Paul Gibbons.
My good early season form has also raised the possibility of the World Championships in Beijing. I am realistic and I know I am still some way short of the qualification standard of 5.65m but Athletics NZ have extended the deadline for World Champs qualification until after the World University Games. By then I hope to be vaulting in the 5.50m-5.55m range, so it will certainly be an ambition I will keep in the back of my mind. There is also another route to Beijing by gaining a wildcard through winning the Oceania Championships in May, so this could be another possibility.
The intensity and buzz I get from competition is ultimately the main reason why I am engaged with the sport but with the early season comps dotted around the town and cities of New Zealand it offers a pleasant reminder of the beauty of this country. I travelled down to Hastings for the Potts Classic with three fellow vaulters – Tom North, Pascal Kethers and James Steyn – and we stopped off on the way back at a water hole we know in Havelock North. Vaulters are always looking for an extra thrill, so the chance to go tree jumping into the water is not an opportunity we are about to turn down.
This reminds me that early in the New Year Tom, Pascal, Eliza McCartney and I headed to the Bethells Beach dunes in West Auckland to jump into the nearby lake. We took a couple of poles with us planted the poles in the sand and then landed in the lake, which was so cool. I guess it was a little bit like those guys vaulting over the dykes in the Netherlands – except we were guaranteed a drenching!
Only last week I returned to Bethells Beach to earn a little bit of pocket money appearing as an extra for an Australian TV company filming a chips advert. Two year ago an old friend of my dad’s got me involved in working for an agency – Vanity Walk – which I have done a little bit of modelling for and appeared as an extra. Mind, I’ve got to say if you do see the advert, in which I’m on the beach looking at fireworks, it hardly needed me to reveal any Oscar-winning acting skills.
Nick

HOLLY ROBINSON - JAVELIN (AIMING FOR IPC ATHLETICS DOHA WORLD CHAMPS)

3 February 2015
I don’t mind admitting, I’m excited about the next month or so. I’m entering a critical phase of competitive action in which my aim is to secure a qualification mark to compete at the IPC World Championships in Doha – my main goal for the season. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) – the international governing body of Paralympic sport – only recognise certain events for qualification purposes, so the fact that all my forthcoming key competitions are fully sanctioned by the IPC makes every competition highly significant.
My next comp is the Porritt Classic on Saturday followed by the Otago Championships, Canterbury Championships and NZ Nationals, before I fly out to Brisbane for two weeks training before Aussie Nationals.
Those who follow my results will know I have hit a bit of a plateau so far this summer. I seem to be stuck on 32m in competition – but I’m confident I can break free from that distance very soon.
I’ve just come off a solid Christmas block of training and I’m very happy with my how my body feels and my form. With just a few more sessions, I’ll be ready to go. The aim is to throw a PB and hopefully break the 36m mark (My PB is 35.58). For me, that would be a solid effort.
I feel I’ve made big progress in the gym since I was given a specially constructed prosthetic arm for weight training about a year ago. I had always been dominant on my right side, but the arm has allowed me to build up strength on my left side. Prior to using the arm, I also had shocking balance and it has helped in this area as well.
I’m excited to compete at Porritt Classic because while up in Hamilton I will be attend a javelin camp as well as an elite squad Para athlete camp. The javelin camp will provide key technical aspects of Javelin throwing with our competition being videoed by a biomechanist and if it is anything like past camps, the experience will allow me to reinforce the technical aspects of the throw.
Since my last Athletics NZ blog I celebrated my 20th birthday at the races. It was such a fun day and I’m happy to report I backed a few winners and broke even on the day.
I later spent Christmas with my family in Hokitika before enjoying five days over New Year’s at the family holiday home in Okarito on the West Coast. I’ve spent many happy times there over the years and it was there where I learned to fish and ride a motorbike. It is a tiny place with no shops or cell phone coverage – which comes as a shock to the system when you are so reliant on technology.
It was great to experience Okirito with my family, although I kept my eye on the ball with my fitness and I made sure I trained every day through a combination of drills, cardio and a core session. I also made sure I didn’t miss out on a weights session and drove the 260km round trip to Hokitika to work out at a gym there in the middle of the break before returning to Okarito.
I took my javelins to Okarito and trained in a field by a camp ground. As you can imagine, the sight of me hurling spears around a field attracted a lot of attention from curious holidaymakers.

The kids were really interested in what I was doing. I even allowed the kids to try their hand at throwing the javelin and even a couple of the adults couldn’t resist a hurl!
Since returning to Dunedin, I’ve moved flats about 400m down the road. Poly doesn’t start for me until the second week of February, so this has allowed me to focus on my training. As many students have not yet returned the city, it has been very quiet. However, I have been lucky in that fellow para-athlete Caitlin Dore has been living with me until the university Halls of Residence open, so the company has been welcome.
For my next blog, I hope to reflect on a busy competitive period where I hope to report on some positive results.
Holly

Siositina Hakeai - Discus (Aiming for Beijing World Champs)

27 January 2015
The results haven't quite yet shown it so far this season, but I'm faster and stronger than ever and I'm hopeful I can achieve longer distances as the season progresses.
Technically, I’m not quite at 100 per cent yet. I've had a minor shoulder injury and just come off a heavy three-week block of training, so I'm hoping during this lighter phase of training to feel a lot fresher and start throwing what I know I am capable of.
In my most recent outing at the Capital Classic in Wellington – although I lost out by 0.07m to my trainIng partner Te Rina Keenan - I threw a season's best of 57.23m which shows my form is heading in the right direction.
Meanwhile, at another meeting in the capital earlier this month, I threw 61.50m in warm-up – which was measured by my coach Matt Dallow. My longest ever warm up throws came at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games at around 62m, so this is another reason to be optimistic.
Since my last Athletics NZ blog, I'm happy to report that the diet that I'm committed to has continued to go well. After a difficult first couple of weeks adapting to my a new nutritional programme I am now finding much easier – although I don't mind admitting that I do occasionally crave chocolate and ice cream! I have lost 8kg since I started the regime two months ago and I hope to have reduced my weight by 15kg in total by the time I get to nationals (on March 6-8).
As a result of the weight loss, I feel faster and stronger in the circle. One of my big fears of the weight loss programme was I thought it might impact on my strength, but I'm pleased to report that is not the case.
I’m gaining muscle and getting stronger and recently improved my bench PB by 5kg to 115kg. My numbers on the watt bike - where I aim to reach top speed - are also more consistent than ever. My best RPM of 194 is a mark I used to hit once in a blue moon, but I'm now hitting it on a regular basis.
The diet is making a big difference to my overall fitness and although I have been disciplined, I did have a couple of cheat days over the holiday season – well it was Christmas and New Year!
I spent Christmas at my nanas on my mum's side. I enjoyed having a big feed and spending quality time with the family – we have a large family as my mum is one of eight siblings. Meanwhile, we spent New Year's Day on the beach at Long Bay in Auckland enjoying a Barbecue and going for swims. Sheer bliss!
Still, as enjoyable as Christmas and New Year was my main focus is achieving that goal of throwing 61m and qualifying for the World Championships in Beijing. My next big event is the Porritt Classic in Hamilton before I go on to the NZ Nationals and Aussie Nationals. Then I will head out to the United States with Matt and my training group for three-and-a-half weeks of training and competition. It will be my first ever visit to the States, but the hope is that I will have achieved the World Championship standard before I head out to California.
I’m definitely looking forward to the rest of the season. I'm just trying to take it step by step. I know what I have to do to execute. I am prone to self-doubt – like any athlete - but deep down I'm confident I can achieve my goals.
Siositina

Quentin Rew - Race walker (Aiming for Beijing World Champs)

20 January 2015
Since my last Athletics NZ blog, I've had a busy couple of months. I've wrapped up my six-week training block in Australia and I couldn't have asked for it to have gone any better. Mileage was consistently around 200km per week, and despite the tiring effects of simulated altitude I was covering it at a good pace (averaging well under 5 minutes per km). My Australian experience culminated in a 20km race in Melbourne, where I recorded a PB of 1:22.11 to chip five seconds off the NZ record. The race itself wasn't great: the pace was inconsistent, I lead most of the way but it just never felt 'smooth'. I also had two cards after 10km, which meant that one more technical infringement would result in a DQ - and that in itself creates uncertainty and makes it difficult to really race hard in the last few kilometres. Given that it could have gone better I'm pleased the time was competitive and I look forward to going much faster in a race where everything comes together.
Another positive to come from the Melbourne race was that the time qualifies me for August's World Championships in Beijing. Having already achieved the 50km qualifying time nailing a decent 20km gives me the option to compete in both races in Beijing. I've never raced 20km at a major championships before, but with the benefit of hindsight I feel I could have performed well in the 20km at the 2013 Moscow World Championships. Unlike many running events the pace in championship walking races is usually fast from the gun, which should suit me well. The time I walked in Melbourne would have placed me seventh in Moscow and that gives me the confidence I can mix it with the guys near the front of the field. If I can put everything together on the day then I'm confident of another good result in Beijing.
There are still a few races between now and then and next up is the Capital Classic on Friday (Jan 23rd). The race walk on the programme is 3000m - much shorter than my ideal racing distance, but still an event I think I can perform well in. The New Zealand record is 11:21, which is well within my capabilities providing the notorious Wellington wind behaves itself. I'm also planning on racing in USA and Mexico in the coming months with a view to having the best possible preparation for World Champs.
Aside from training, work has kept me busy - I'm back working for my old employer, TBI Health, practising physiotherapy. It's a great company. They give me the flexibility to block out time for training and work part time hours when I have a heavy training day. I can also use the gym facilities at work.
I've also been enjoying spending plenty of time with family. We were all together for Christmas for the first time in a few years which was great. It was also refreshing to have a warm Christmas with pohutukawas and sunshine - quite different to the last two in northern England!
I was still with the family for New Year's Eve, and it was the quietest one I've had for many years. I didn't make any New Year's resolutions because I don't see much point in them. All they seem to do is fill running tracks with people who have no interest in running and encourage the insecure to adopt ineffective and unsustainable fad diets. I'd much rather make a 'resolution' whenever a need arises. If I need to work on flexibility (and I do!) I won't wait until January to make a resolution - I'll just go ahead and start stretching. Otherwise it smacks of the "I'll start my diet tomorrow" attitude, which will more likely sabotage your goals than achieve them. Despite not setting 'resolutions' as such, there are still things I'd like to see happen this year. On a personal note, I'd like to keep improving and race well when it matters in the important races. And on a bigger scale it would be great to see a world with more tolerance and less violence. Perhaps this is a little bit of an ambitious goal or maybe it is possible if we all resolve to be nicer to each other.

Quentin

Michael Cochrane - 400m hurdles (Aiming for Beijing World Champs)


13 January 2015
Readers of my previous blog will recall I was tracking positively towards the start of my competitive 400m hurdles season and I’m happy to write that is still the case - despite having to negotiate a couple of minor bumps in the road in the past month or so.
The great news is I’m still managing to put in 13 strides up to hurdle six during training which is the biggest performance indicator I have to confirm I’m progressing nicely. Last season I was running 13 strides from up to hurdle five, changing down to 14 strides to hurdle nine and then running 15 strides to hurdle ten. By pushing 13 strides out to hurdle six this will allow me to come home in 14 strides all the way to hurdle ten. How does made a difference? Well, by chopping your stride (putting an extra stride in) can cost an average 0.20, so by adjusting the stride pattern can save precious time.
I’ve also had a recent boost after Alex Jordan, the national 400m champion, joined my training group up here in Auckland in late-November. Okay, to call it a training group is a slight exaggeration - as I’ve pretty much trained on my own since I was a teenager - but to have Alex, who like me is guided by Angus Ross, make the move north from Wellington has been hugely beneficial. He and I push each other hard during the speed-endurance sessions and I also have the additional benefit of being able to talk to someone during training!
Those of you who scan the results carefully may have noticed my name appear at the North Island Championships in Palmerston North. In my previous blog I mentioned I next intended to run in Tasmania later this month. However, I thought by entering a 100m and 400m race this would enable me to get back in the competitive groove.
Unfortunately, during the 100m - which I ran in 11.3 into a two-metre headwind - I picked up a slight hamstring niggle and I withdrew from the 400m. It was only a minor problem and it has since cleared but it which set me back a bit.
I also endured the odd frustration over the Christmas and New Year period. I spent Christmas Day at my sister’s place in Hamilton before driving on to Gisborne on Boxing Day to spend time with my wife’s family. Frustratingly, neither Hamilton or Gisborne has a track to train on at the moment. The Porritt Stadium is currently closed, meanwhile, even the grass track in Gisborne has been taken over by one of the summer music festivals, which meant I had to be quite creative when it came to training.
In the end I located a high school playing field to put my hurdles on – which was hardly ideal but the best I could manage. Aside from the odd training frustration I enjoyed my time in Gisborne. I’m a keen birdwatcher and as the city is in quite a remote corner of New Zealand there is the opportunity to see some rare native birds. I spotted some Bellbirds, which can hear from a mile away and are quite fun to track down.
After Gisborne I then headed to Tauranga to compete in the Twlight meet on New Year’s Day and spent New Year’s Eve at the apartment of middle-distance runner Camille Buscomb and national 400m hurdles champion Cameron French. It was quite a sedate night because we had to prepare for a meet the next day - although we did make it into town for the official New Year countdown .
Unfortunately, I then abandoned plans to compete at the meet when I received news my wife's foot had been run over by a car parked in her driveway. I drove back down to Gisborne and although, thankfully, nothing was broken, Beth was in pain with severe bruising and bad swelling.
Since my last blog the IAAF have announced the qualification standards for the World Athletics Championships in Beijing and the 400m hurdles standard has been set at 49.50. I think this is fair and consistent with what I expected as 49.42 was quick enough for sixteenth at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow.
My next target is to try and achieve that time during the summer season. I always feel nervous on the cusp of a new season and it always takes a race or two to settle down. I plan to start my season in Hobart on January 25 before moving on to Newcastle (Jan 31) and then on to Canberra (Feb 7) – where I hope to base myself for the first leg of my Australian-based competitive programme.
I’ll then fly back home to New Zealand before moving back out to Adelaide on February 21. Next up will be NZ nationals in Wellington and then on to Sydney (Mar 14).
For my next blog I’m looking forward to writing about how my season is unravelling in my quest to book a spot on the New Zealand team for Beijing.
Michael

NICK SOUTHGATE - POLE VAULT (AIMING FOR WORLD UNIVERSITY GAMES)


16 December 2014
It is just over a couple of weeks away from the end of a year which for me has been cursed by a series of unfortunate injuries. I came into the year full of confidence. I’d made excellent progress in the winter of 2013. My strength and speed had both improved and I’d stepped up to training on a bigger pole (moving up from 16ft to 16ft 6ins).
The early phase of last summer started promisingly. I vaulted a PB of 5.00m off my short run up of 12 steps – my usual run-up is 18 steps – a mark which was then within 5.10m of my absolute best at that point.
Then in early March I set PB’s of 5.15m and 5.20m and after travelling over to Australia for a couple of meets in Melbourne I was confident of closing in on the Commonwealth Games qualification standard of 5.35m. The first meet was relatively low-key (note, the second was scheduled to be the IAAF World Challenge meet) but I felt great. I comfortably cleared 5.15m and set the bar at the qualification standard for Glasgow. Unfortunately, as I went for the clearance the pole snapped and I flipped on to the mat. When I looked down I had split the skin open on my left hand – the sheer force of the snap had split it. Luckily there was no structural damage, although the split run from the base of my hand through to the knuckle of my index finger so I underwent plastic surgery in Melbourne.
I was later granted special dispensation to compete in Brisbane in an effort to meet the Commonwealth Games standard – when I was given a real kick in the groin. Incredibly, just six weeks later I snapped another pole damaging the same hand, although at least this time the split wasn’t quite as long.
Reviewing the two incidents, it was decided I had done nothing wrong and that I had simply been the victim of two freak accidents. We did talk to the manufacturer and they recommended I no longer jump from those poles. We switched from carbon fibre poles to the generally more forgiving fibreglass poles - which I hope will help avoid such a nasty accident occurring in future.
Unfortunately, the double hand injury was not the end of my injury woes. In June I was carrying out a long jump session when I landed awkwardly. I woke up the next day with a swollen left knee when it was discovered I had torn the meniscus. Two months later I underwent surgery to fix the problem and then had to wait a further six weeks before I could start jogging again. Very frustrating.
I’ve been back vaulting for two sessions a week for around six weeks. I still have to manage my knee carefully to avoid overloading it and this has slightly restricted what I can do from a vaulting point of view because it is harder to achieve a rigid take off.
Thankfully, Jeremy McColl, my coach, has been very supportive and patient and while my vaulting has been slightly compromised because I am without an upper body affliction, I have been able to hit the gym much harder. My body weight has gone up from around 76-77kg to 80kg and this increased strength - I set a PB bench press of around 117kg a couple of weeks ago – has allowed me to jump from bigger poles off shorter approaches than in the past - all positive signs.
I’ll find out just where I’m at as I make my seasonal debut on Saturday (Dec 20)at Mt Smart Stadium before launching into the Classic meets in Hastings in January.
My main goal for the year is to qualify for July’s World University Games in Korea. The qualification standards are generous given the quality of vaulters likely to be on show and I believe the B standard of 5.20m and A standard of 5.30m are very achievable for me.
Away from the track, I’ve just completed the second year of a four-year degree course in a Bachelor of Construction at Massey University. I’m majoring in Construction Management – which is quite a niche area – but I’ve experienced some work experience on a construction site and it is something I really enjoy.
I’m also a huge tennis fan – one of my summer highlights is watching the Australian Open. Tennis players are a special breed and I genuinely admire how they can endure those brutal five-set matches. I’m lucky to say that I will get to experience first-hand the top elite players in action because one of the guys in the squad has picked up a ticket for me to attend the ASB Classic in Auckland.
For now, though, I will be bid a hasty goodbye to a difficult 2014 with my great wish that 2015 will bring me better luck.
Nick

Holly Robinson - Javelin (Aiming for IPC Athletics Doha World Champs)


9 December 2014

With the summer season now upon us and the competitions coming thick and fast, I hope to see some good results of enjoying my first solid winter’s training for some time. The 2012 and 2013 seasons were dominated by preparing for the London Paralympics and the IPC World Championships in Lyon, respectively. This meant that the emphasis was to be in peak condition for the European summer season, which impacted on my winter work here in New Zealand.
This winter I’m very happy with my current shape and the break from major championship competition in 2014 has allowed me to focus on some areas that I had missed out on over the past couple of years. Apart from a minor ankle injury, which hampered me for 3-4 weeks during winter training, I feel both stronger and fitter than I ever have at this time of the year, so I’m excited about the forthcoming season ahead and what I can achieve.
I’ve already competed three times this season with a best mark of 32m in all three competitions. This may be a little way down on my PB of 35.58m, but I’m far from discouraged because I’m a notoriously slow starter to the season and those distances are beyond what I have ever done before at this time of the year.
Yet before I look forward, I’m going to take a step back and reflect upon what has been a satisfying 2014. Back in March, I threw 34.06m just 0.31cm shy of my then PB to win the national title in Wellington before then throwing 34.13m at Aussie nationals the following week.
I then flew out to Beijing to compete at the China Open – part of the IPC Athletics Grand Prix series. Competing there was a completely different experience. Culturally it was quite different to what I was used to. Very few people spoke English, there was very few non-Chinese athletes competing and I initially struggled with the language barrier. Even during the competition, I only knew it was my turn to throw when an official nodded at me. Thankfully, from the warm up I felt great throughout the competition and I threw a PB of 35.58m – a distance which ranked me second in the world this year for my classification (F46).
I must have been in good nick because also in Beijing I set a shot PB by more than half a metre with 10.84m to rank me second in the world for that event in 2014. However, because the shot in my classification is not part of the Paralympic and World Championship programme javelin remains my number one priority.
My next big competition is the South Island Teams Event next weekend (Dec 13-14) before I return to for another training block before coming back for a string of meetings from February to April. This will include a two-week stint training in Brisbane while the track is being re-laid at the Caledonian Ground here in Dunedin.
Beyond that we have not yet finalised whether I’ll be competing in Beijing and Sao Paulo, Brazil – two IPC Athletics Grand Prix Series events - but the main goal for the year remains the IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha. The event, staged in October, will present some interesting challenges. Firstly, the timing of an international championship event – so late in the year – is unusual and the hot conditions I will face there – likely to be in excess of 30c - are very different to what I’m used to here in Dunedin. I have huge faith my coach, Raylene, will come up with a plan to ensure I am in peak shape for the challenges ahead.
In Doha I am likely to face Hollie Arnold my rival from Great Britain. It is funny we share the same name – albeit spelt differently - we are also the same age and we have been competing against each other since the 2011 IPC World Championships in Christchurch. Hollie finished her year strongly with a 40m throw and next year when we meet I’m sure we’ll be all set for another close battle.
Away from the track, I’ve just completed my second year of a Bachelor of Applied Science (physical activity in health and wellness) at Otago Polytechnic. It is a relief to have finished as the past couple of months have been full on. As part of our degree we have been put on placements - one of which is I’m part of a programme to help young unemployed people back to work. I have been running a segment of that focused on exercise and I run three sessions a week for them. All of them really want to be there and work hard, which is very motivating.
Tomorrow (Dec 10) I celebrate my 20st birthday and I’m going to the Christmas races at Wingatui racecourse near Mosgiel. I’m not really much of a gambler but it will be a fun celebration and maybe a bit more sedate than the round of 21t birthdays I will be celebrating next year.
Looking a little further ahead and I’m looking forward to heading home for a few days over Christmas to my home town of Hokitika on the West Coast to catch up with the family. I’ve only been back home for a once all year for a few days, so it something I’m really looking forward to.
Unfortunately, my hometown is not blessed with the very best training facilities so on the way back to Dunedin I’ll spend a few days with Raylene in Wanaka – which has a high performance training centre - and I’ll train there for a few days. It is a big sacrifice to spend very little of Christmas at home with my family, but they fully understand as the ambition is all about performing at my best in Doha and then at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.
Holly

Siositina Hakeai - Discus (Aiming for Beijing World Champs)

2 December 2014
As the year draws to an end I can look back with a lot of satisfaction on 2014. I set a personal best of 59.65m in February and also experienced my first major senior championships, finishing fourth at the Commonwealth Games. I can't complain at the way my season went, but it was also frustrating to miss out on a medal in Glasgow. Having had a taste of competing in a major competition it has made me even more hungry to come back even stronger next year, where my main goal is to qualify for the World Championships in Beijing.

I've already made a number of sacrifices to achieve my target of meeting the 2015 World Championship qualifying distance of 61.00m. A little over a month ago, I moved out of the family home in Mangere, South Auckland to live in a flat just four minutes drive away from my training base at AUT Millennium in Auckland's North Shore.
The move makes it much easier for me to fit in double training sessions three days a week. When I lived in South Auckland this was very difficult because the commute back from training at the Millennium would take between 45mins to more than an hour depending on traffic.
Now I have the luxury of having the time for a nap between sessions and to freshen-up in time for my second session of the day. One area which has really stepped up has been my cardio work, which I now do three times a week. My coach, Matt Dallow, has introduced boxing and swimming into the programme.
To make it clear, I'm not in the boxing ring sparring – I don't think Matt would allow that – but I am working on my jab and using my hips in a way which would help my discus. I normally enjoy swimming, although Matt really takes the fun out of it by insisting we swim lengths and sprint in the pool!
I've also been working hard on my technique in an effort to improve my speed in the circle and on blocking – making sure I'm not over-rotating at the end of the throw.
Each Monday and Thursday I work for two half-days at my old school, Viscount Primary where I help out with the PE. While back in Mangere this presents a good opportunity to make sure I catch up with family.
Back over the Shore and I am one of seven flat-mates living in the house. I live with a mix of people. Some have regular jobs, but I also live with two weightlifters one of whom - Tracey Lambrechs - won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games. The biggest change since moving into the flat has been to my diet and I'm currently following a detailed nutritonal programme set by Matt. The idea is that I now follow a good blend between carbs, protein and vegetables and cut out the bad stuff like lollies and chocolate. Living on my own it is much easier to follow the programme. I have to cook the food myself whereas when I was living at home there was always food on the table, but it was often not the kind of food I should have been eating.
I find disciplining myself to the programme difficult, but I know it is a sacrifice I need to make in order to achieve my sporting goals. In the first four weeks I have lost 4kg in weight and I hope to lose much more.
This weight loss will hopefully allow me to improve my speed in the circle, which will lead – I hope - to longer distances.
I had my first competition since the Commonwealth Games at the weekend and have one more planned this year before the domestic season fully gets into swing in the New Year with the aim to qualify for the World Championships.
Siositina

Quentin Rew - Race walker (Aiming for Beijing World Champs)

25 November 2014
I’m writing my first Athletics NZ blog from the ‘Altitude House’ at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, where I’ve been based for the past two weeks. The altitude house simulates living at an altitude of 3000m, which produces the effect of “living high (altitude), training low”. For an endurance athlete, this is the perfect combination to ensure my month-long stay here in the Australian capital will be hugely beneficial for the season ahead.
I lived in a similar set up in Tokyo for a month earlier this year, so it is not something unfamiliar to me. Living here does make it a harder to sleep and it also makes training a little tougher and that little bit slower, but hopefully the hard work now will pay off at the World Championships in Beijing next year.
The Australian walkers have always been very accommodating in allowing me to train with them. Even when I first came here with modest PBs of 1:29 (20km) and 4:25(50km) - significantly slower than any of them were walking - they were always very supportive and happy to help me out. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to tag along with their training camps, everywhere from rural New South Wales, to the somewhat more glamorous environs of St. Moritz, in the Swiss Alps. Of course, the trans-Tasman rivalries were back on during the Four Nations League (go Kiwis!), but for training here the ANZAC spirit is alive and kicking. 
Before I look forward to next year, I should take a look back at what I’ve been up to recently. After racing in the London Olympics, I moved to the northern English city of Leeds, where I worked as a physio and trained out of the UK Race Walking Centre at Leeds Metropolitan University. The experience was a positive one and I felt I achieved my objectives there, which were to improve my speed in shorter races (3km-20km), and improve on my technical efficiency and economy. Just like the Aussies, the English were more than accommodating in allowing me to train alongside them, and the support I received there was second to none. 
As race walking was controversially excluded from the Commonwealth Games schedule in Glasgow, my pinnacle event for this year was the IAAF World Race Walking Cup in Taicang, China in May. There I finished 12th in the 50km for my best ever global result, but I was far from satisfied with the outcome. It may have been a PB but it was only by seven seconds – insignificant for a race as long as the 50km. I was also aiming for a top eight finish which I failed to achieve. With the benefit of hindsight my tactical approach – to set off conservatively and finish strongly - did not quite pan out. This is a tactic often used by many top walkers, notably the indefatigable 45-year-old Spaniard Jesus Angel Garcia. In Taicang I felt very comfortable for the first half of the race before stepping up the pace between 25 and 40km. With 10km remaining I was in 11th only a few metres behind the eighth placed athlete, but unfortunately I couldn’t bring it home and I faded to finish 13th (later upgraded to 12th due to a Russian failing yet another doping test). Besides the tactical error I also made one or two peripheral mistakes around training, which I hope to rectify ahead of Beijing.
My British visa expired in June, and we decided to use the opportunity to travel the scenic route back to New Zealand, through Europe and North America. This year’s off-season was longer than usual, and there won’t be a chance to have such a long break any time before Rio, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to let training take a back seat for once. My girlfriend, Alana, is also a race walker, which makes it much easier to plan a holiday, knowing that we both want to keep training, as well as seeing the sights. So even though we called it a ‘holiday’, every week still experienced more than 100km of race walking. 
During the long trip home, we raced in Vancouver (20km for Alana, 30km for me), and spent a month altitude training in Colorado. Then before heading back home to Wellington, I raced as part of a composite team in an innovative Tour de France-style race walking competition in China in which athletes compete over four different distances on four straight days with the winner determined on cumulative time. I raced in a team with an Aussie and a Canadian, and we were up against top class teams from all over the world. The reigning Olympic and world champions were competing, along with a swag of other medallists and record holders from major international competitions. 
It proved a bittersweet experience. I was pleasantly surprised to be mixing it with the leaders on the first two days (ninth on day one, eighth on day two), and then claimed a 10km PB of 39:17 on day three on a hilly course, to finish fifth, and within 50m of Olympic champion Chen Ding. Sadly, one of my team-mates Chris Erickson was disqualified on day three, which ruled us out of the team competition. On the final stage, with the lucrative team prize now gone, I risked walking off the front of the pack. The added scrutiny of being isolated in front of the judges was too much, and unfortunately I too was DQ’d.
After China I flew back to Wellington for the first time since June 2012. It was such a fantastic feeling to be back home after such a long spell away. Seeing family and friends again was a real highlight, but there were things I didn’t even know I missed until I saw them again: fundraising sausage sizzles at Frank Kitts Park; sparkling duet and lamingtons at the supermarket; even the stubborn nor’wester that nearly blows you off your feet at Point Jerningham (let’s call it resistance training). I’m hoping to race more regularly when I return to New Zealand over the summer. One race I’m targeting is the Capital Classic in my home city, where I hope to have a crack at the national 3000m record.
Before then I’m racing a 20km in Melbourne on December 14. Yet the main priority for the next 12 months is performing well at the World Championships in Beijing next August, where I’m aiming for the 20km and 50km double. At the London Olympics and the last two World Championships I competed solely in the 50km, but I believe that in Moscow I may have performed better over the shorter distance. Looking at the timetable in Beijing there are six days between the 20km and 50km and many other international race walkers have proved it’s possible to perform with distinction in both races.
In late February and early March next year, I’ll have an opportunity to race in back-to-back 20km and 50km races and then I will have a much better idea of how feasible the double will be. The main aim is a top eight finish in the 50km race walk where I’m hoping to have a go at Craig Barrett’s New Zealand record, set back in 2001.
Quentin

Michael Cochrane - 400m hurdles (Aiming for Beijing World Champs)

18 November 2014

For my first Athletics NZ blog I’m happy to write that for the past couple of months I’m now officially a full-time athlete. While away in Morocco competing for the Asia-Pacific team at the Continental Cup in September, I received confirmation I had received an Olympic Solidarity Scholarship via the NZOC.

The bonus of receiving a small salary through the scholarship is massive. That money alongside the income my wife receives in her work has allowed me to quit my teaching job and focus 100 per cent on athletics.
The hope is that my total commitment to my sport will enable me to fulfil my potential. Last season I missed Commonwealth Games qualification by 0.02. This was naturally hugely frustrating, but in another sense highly motivating to know I was so close to a big breakthrough. It made me realise I need to put every effort into training each day to reap the rewards.
In the past I’ve found juggling the demands of full-time work and training taxing. Occasionally, I might be able to squeeze in a very early morning session before school and an afternoon training session later in the day but I would invariably feel tired.
Now I have switched to being a full-time athlete, I manage to complete an extra four sessions per week and I also have time to fit in and introduce additional recovery sessions like pilates and other core work, which takes up a significant amount of time.
My new training regime includes two pool sessions per week where aqua-sprinting is the order of the day. For those of you that don’t know, aqua-sprinting involves hanging from the side of a pool with a float on my back sprinting as fast as possible. The work in the pool can emulate the equivalent work of a 10x300m session on the track by building lactate but with the added advantage of allowing my legs to recover quicker from the low impact than if I had hammered my legs carrying out the session on the track.
I can now also do sprints and weights sessions on the same day twice a week, which frees up a couple of extra days and allows me to do more track work.
I figured that now I’m devoting 100 per cent of my time into training I had probably better fuel myself properly, so I'm in the process of receiving a precise nutritional plan from HPSNZ key provider Tanya Hamilton. I haven’t always made the right dietary choices, but I believe if everything is clearly written down for me it will take away that tempting element of choice!
I’m still only two months into being a full-time athlete, but the early signs are promising. I’m hitting PB’s in the gym, my sprinting is a lot faster and power-wise my vertical jump is better than last year. I’m also way ahead of where I was this time last year – when I was struggling with injury - in terms of my endurance work. I’ve also done some good sprint hurdles work which nicely complements the 400m hurdles. It is now just a case of technically knitting together all those components to produce a good 400m hurdles race.
My 2014 season was bittersweet. I was very happy with the times I produced and very proud to break the New Zealand record. Yet I would have loved to have been competing at the Commonwealth Games. It is difficult to assess how I would have performed in Glasgow. If I could have replicated my best ever time I would have finished sixth in the final. However, I am realistic. The final took place in wet conditions, so in all likelihood I would have struggled to run a PB.
My main goal for 2015 is qualification for the World Championships in Beijing. As of now I’m still awaiting confirmation from the IAAF as to the qualification standards. There is talk of just one qualification standard rather than the traditional A and B standard. Whether this will make qualification even tougher, I just don’t know. All I can do is keep my head down, remain totally focused and run as fast as I can.
I’ve also changed by coaching set up in the past couple of months. I’m now self-coached when it comes to my endurance and hurdling sessions while Angus Ross takes care of my speed work and strength work. I’m confident with the arrangement as the hurdles is an element to my athletics training which has always come natural to me, whereas other areas like speed and strength I need greater input.
My next planned 400m hurdles outing will be in Tasmania in late January. Hopefully by my next blog I’ll have built on the good work of the past couple of months and be in a position to kick-start my summer season in top form.

 

Copyright 2018 by Athletics New Zealand
amator turk sikis izle
istanbul escort beylikduzu escort beylikduzu escort sisli escort porno
alanya escort
bitcoin casino
steroid satin al