Grants Provide Financial Leg-up to Emerging Talented Athletes

High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ) is backing emerging talented athletes with financial assistance to advance their development towards competing on the world’s toughest sporting stages - world championships, Olympics and Paralympic Games.

Some athletes who have been identified by their national sport organisation as tracking towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games are being given a new ‘Emerging Talent Performance Enhancement Grant (PEGs)’ from HPSNZ to enhance their development.

Up to $400,000 a year will be paid out in Emerging Talent PEGs to about 40 targeted, high potential athletes. Individual grants range up to $10,000, depending on the needs of the athletes.

The grants will be on top of existing investment and other support provided to those athletes.

HPSNZ General Manager Performance and Strategic Investment Mike McGovern says the Emerging Talent grant is a new category within the highly regarded PEGs programme which helps athletes already competing on the world stage with direct financial help to better enable them to maximise their potential.

``It takes many years for athletes to develop their skills to be world’s best, and the aim of the Emerging Talent grants is to provide a financial leg-up for athletes who may be 4-8 years from the podium but cannot commit the time to the training they need now, or are unable to attend key competitions or training camps, due to financial constraints,’’ McGovern says.

``We’ve created this new category in partnership with national sport organisations to remove some of those development barriers and to help athletes tracking towards Tokyo in 2020, or pinnacle events after that, so they can dedicate more time now to the sport they love and ultimately help their progression towards the podium.’’

Emerging Talent grants allocated so far include to:
• rising discus star Siositina Hakeai who has placed just outside the medals at Junior World Championships and the Commonwealth Games;
• pole vaulter Eliza McCartney, a bronze medallist at last year’s Junior World Athletics Championships and a silver medallist at the recent World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea;
• young Nacra 17 yachting crew of Micah Wilkinson and Olivia Mackay who were last year named on Yachting NZ’s Aon Fast Track programme;
• Laser sailor Thomas Saunders who secured his first medal, a silver, in 2013 and is part of the NZL Sailing Team;
• snowboarder Carlos Garcia Knight who was identified in a talent camp a few years ago and claimed a silver medal in slopestyle at the FIS Snowboard Junior World Championships in Yabuli this year.
• cyclist Luke Mudgway, who won gold in the men’s Madison with Regan Gough at the UCI Junior World Track Championships in 2014.

McGovern says HPSNZ and national sport organisations are working together to close gaps in talent development so the next generation of high performance athletes are supported to reach their full potential.

``Our new Emerging Talent PEGs are one of a number of initiatives by HPSNZ to get a head start on the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic cycle. While we’re making a moderate investment in these grants, the sports have been very responsive in targeting our support to their growing talent to ensure those with potential get this extra financial help so they can advance their growth in the sport,’’ he says.

Yachting New Zealand high performance director Jez Fanstone says the Emerging Talent grants ``provide an opportunity to positively impact our younger athletes who are actively campaigning in Olympic classes with the goal of success in Tokyo”.

“It can help in many areas of their campaign including access to international competition to improve their racing skills, build consistency, and further their development as young sailors,” he says.

Snow Sports New Zealand high performance director Ashley Light says the extra financial help now will help their young athletes go a long way.

``Three of the athletes in our High Performance Development squad are receiving the grants. They’ll use the money to progress in their training and gain on-going critical exposure to appropriate level competition that will help set them up for the future,’’ he says.