On July 23/24 Paralympics New Zealand held our first Para-Cycling Talent Identification and Development Camp in the South Island. ParaFed Canterbury hosted the camp in Christchurch where Mother Nature turned on a spectacular weekend of fine weather and excellent cycling conditions. Nine para-athletes attended the camp, including current members of the Paralympics New Zealand Development and Junior Development Squads as well as new riders looking to enter the High Performance pathway.
The Camp kicked off with an information session introducing riders to Paralympics New Zealand and the sport of Para-Cycling, as well as a special guest presentation from current Paralympics New Zealand Academy Squad Hand-Cyclist Shane Blows. The information session was held at High Performance Sport New Zealand’s Christchurch base where the athletes got to enjoy the athlete lounge and the Fonterra Dairy fridge!
From here it was off to the Canterbury A&P Showgrounds for a skills session with local Christchurch Cycling Coach Paul Odlin. Paul focussed on a range of important cycling skills including bike safety, riding in a straight line, riding in a bunch, and cornering. The group was fortunate to be joined by another Paralympics New Zealand Academy Squad Hand Cyclist Jono Nelson, who amazed the new riders with his hand-cycle, his skill and his speed. The session finished with a very competitive time trial around the showgrounds where coaches were impressed by the fast pace set by all athletes.
On Sunday the group headed up the mountain to Summit Road for some road cycling, hill climbing and descending practice. The riders battled a challenging course and windy conditions to again impress the coaches with their determination and strength. Saving the best for last, the camp wrapped up on Sunday afternoon with Power testing at the University of Canterbury. Here all talent identification athletes pushed themselves to the limit in a 30 second maximum effort test and a 5 minute (for younger riders) or 15 minute endurance test.
The camp was led by Paralympics New Zealand Para-Cycling Development Coordinator Dale MacDonald, who was assisted by Paralympics New Zealand Para-Cycling Assistant Coach Stu MacDonald, Paralympics New Zealand Para-Sport High Performance Athlete Development Manager, Melissa Wilson, Paralympics New Zealand Para-Sport Community Development Manager, Kieran Wall, and ParaFed Canterbury Sport Manager Hadleigh Pierson. Dale was very impressed by the standard of the new riders and hopeful this South Island Camp will become an annual event: “It was really exciting to make our foray into the South Island, and excellent to meet some new riders and work with some of our current development riders. It was uplifting to enjoy the incredibly positive attitudes from all participants, who showed they were open to the learning opportunities available to them, and it’s outstanding we can continue to provide some on-going coaching in Canterbury thanks to the Cyril Smith Legacy fund and Paul Odlin. Overall, a brilliant weekend was had by all, and a huge thanks goes out to those people and organisations who assisted in helping make the weekend successful.”
The South Island Para-Cycling Talent Identification and Development Camp also served as the launch of a new ParaFed Canterbury Para-Cycling Programme that aims to increase participation and standards of Para-Cycling in the region. This programme has been made possible with the support of the Cyril Smith Legacy Fund, and will be led by Paul Odlin.
A big congratulations to all athletes involved in the South Island Para-Cycling Talent Identification and Development Camp and thank you to all staff, Parafed Canterbury, High Performance Sport New Zealand, the Canterbury A&P Showgrounds and the University of Canterbury for making the camp possible and such a success.