National Athlete Transfer System

The National Athlete Transfer System provides support for athletes to move into a new sport where they are capable of winning an Olympic medal.

HPSNZ is interested in athletes with a proven track record of performance at the international level or at the highest standard nationally who may be interested in transferring to another sport.

There is sufficient evidence to show that athletes can make progress in a new sport in a shortened timeframe because they can transfer some of the skills (physical and mental), physiological attributes, and training ethic that they have already acquired.

On this page: how track cyclist Jaime Nielsen made the switch from rowing.

If you are aged between 16-28 years, and:

  • are currently, or have been, a carded athlete as part of an NSO's high performance programme
  • have experience in following an intensive high-quality training programme, probably in excess of 20 hours per week over many years
  • have excellent levels of power, speed and/or endurance
  • are intrinsically motivated, have a strong work ethic, are persistent and determined
  • are passionate about succeeding and enjoy competition
  • are "coachable", that is, prepared to listen to advice and try new skills
  • are eligible to compete for New Zealand

… then complete your expression of interest to be assessed now.

About the system

Based on a completed Expression of Interest, HPSNZ will select those athletes suitable for testing. The first stage of testing will confirm your talent and potential, and the second will further confirm potential and identify the Olympic sport(s) you would be most suited to. The assessment criteria across the phases are tough, as we are looking for medal-capable athletes.

Which sports can I transfer into?

HPSNZ will recommend one or more sports that best suit your athletic potential and will support you to make an informed decision. HPSNZ is looking to transfer athletes into sports that have world-class Olympic programmes already in place.

What kind of support will I receive?

HPSNZ and your sport will work in partnership to ensure that support services identified in your performance plan are adequately provided for. Your performance plan will be designed to fast-track your development with the best coaching, sport science and medical support.

Expression of interest

You can submit an expression via

Please email or mail the completed Word version to

HPSNZ Athlete Transfer
Email address:
Physical Address: PO Box 302 563, North Harbour, Auckland 0751.

More information

For more information about the National Athlete Transfer System, please contact Adrian Blincoe, Programme Coordinator at

How rower turned track cyclist Jaime Nielsen made the switch

As a 22 year old, Jaime Nielsen was showing promise as an Olympic rower, finishing first in the U23 World Rowing Championships as part of the women's quad boat. As a rower, Jaime was training in multiple ways, and training on the bike was a good variation to the many hours spent on the water.

The opportunity to transfer came up when BikeNZ was running a programme called Power to the Podium, identifying potential athletes. Even though Jaime had done a little cycling at high school, she had never considered she would one day be representing New Zealand at the Olympics on a bike.

"I did a few duathlons in my school years and was always strong on the bike, with good leg strength but I didn't ever consider cycling as I was so committed to rowing,'' she explains.

In 2009, Jaime competed in the Elite Track Cycling Nationals, just two weeks after her last rowing nationals.

"I wouldn't have been able to give track cycling a go without BikeNZ's Power to the Podium programme". I had seen track cycling on the TV but hadn't considered it a sport you can just rock up and try as it required specialised equipment."

Nielsen was fortunate to be supported by a number of people during her transfer including another former rower, Sonia Waddell, and Coach Dayle Cheatley.

Sonia was getting into cycling at a similar time to Jaime so they joined each other in training and were able to compare experiences.

"Dayle introduced me to the track with so much enthusiasm and he was so encouraging and positive, setting goals and challenging me along the way. It was really rewarding when I learned something new or made improvements," she says.

"The first time I got kitted out in an aero helmet, skin suit, racing bike with disc wheels and did a 'proper' Team Pursuit with the girls, I remember following the more experienced riders around the tight corners of the track and trying to copy the way they would sink low into the corners and hug the black line. It was awesome to learn like this."

"It was so much fun and the athletes and staff from BikeNZ were really encouraging."

Although the sports are not too dissimilar physically, her body still needed to get used to sitting on a bike for extended periods of time.

"I had to get to know how to train as a cyclist, it definitely helped talking with others already established in the sport," she says.

The switch meant Jaime had to have plenty of perseverance to learn how to train in a different sport, be open-minded to new ideas and accept that there were going to be plenty of mistakes made along the way. Even the coaching approach was different.

"I was used to rowing where coaches would be out on the water and basically dictate the session,'' she says.

"In track cycling, coaches are there when we are on the track leading up to a competition, but away from the track it is much harder. Most of my training is at home by myself, where programmes are sent by email, but it is up to me to organise my days to get the training completed."

"The cycling environment has given me the self-discipline to go out training by myself and push my limits day after day, and I've got to know myself better and develop some intuition," she says.

"You have to be honest with yourself, whether you have put in enough training each day, what you could do better and you have to try to look at situations objectively."

Jaime's advice to other athletes considering a transfer:

  • You have to be open-minded and set no limits for yourself.
  • Learn from the people in the sport around you, and enjoy it.
  • Be willing to experiment and not always succeed, in order to learn.
  • Have patience and perseverance.