“I want to be in the Olympics for athletics, and go where Valerie Adams has gone and become another her.”

The Wairoa College student is already a national shot put champion, and her pathway to the Olympic podium is looking clearer thanks to the development of AUT Millennium in Hawke’s Bay to target regional talent.

Hawke’s Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust Chair Sir Graeme Avery says: “It will offer an unparalleled regional facility to enhance the health and wellbeing and sports performance of citizens across the whole of Hawke’s Bay.”

The $17 million centre will be built at the Hawke’s Bay Regional Sports Park in Hastings.

Right now there is a temporary gym, but construction is on track to start in October.

When it’s finished by the end of 2018 it will be a mini version of Auckland’s highly successful AUT Millennium centre – complete with a cafe, medical centre, hostel and other sporting facilities.

Sport Development Manager Marcus Agnew says there has been good support so far, “but there’s a lot more support required”.

And that extra support is to help get the project over the line, and encourage further regional community wellbeing.

“We want to build the base of the pyramid as wide as possible, so if we’ve got a nice wide healthy base of the pyramid then the higher that pyramid can go,” Mr Agnew says.

It’s a sentiment that rings true in Wairoa, where a facet of the new programme incorporating health and nutrition has been rolled out.

The centre will be in Hastings, but those who live remotely in Hawke’s Bay will still benefit – either from programmes being brought to them, like the case of Wairoa College, in the form of trainers and nutritionists, or groups travelling to Hastings to visit the centre specially.

Head teacher of Wairoa Athlete Development, Margaret Goldsmith, says the students she works with are talented and simply need some guidance and discipline, which the programme provides.

Mr Agnew says many other regional centres already have their own “centre of excellence”.

“Napier Hastings alone is the equal fifth biggest population in the country, we are isolated and for all of those key reasons it warranted having a centre of excellence here in Hawke’s Bay.”

“We know that a lot of top athletes emerge from small communities, regional settings, the likes of Dan Carter and Richie McCaw are classic examples of that.”

Those emerging athletes will make up 15 per cent of the facility’s users. The rest will be the general public, from early childhood to elderly, all under the same roof, with a shared aspiration making the most of the new facilities.

Source: Hawkes Bay Today 

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