One year on and the University of Waikato Adams Centre for High Performance has exceeded expectations and has a bright future.
The Mt Maunganui centre for sporting excellence - which celebrates its birthday this week - plays a dominant role in the future of sport in New Zealand, says the university’s senior deputy vice-chancellor, professor Alister Jones.
“During the past year, the Centre has hosted a variety of national and international sports teams as they prepare for major events such as the Olympics and the professional seasons. The reputation of the Centre continues to grow,” Mr Jones says.
About 60 athletes train at the centre on a regular basis as members of BOP rugby, NZ rugby and Northern Districts Cricket, as well as an increasing number of athletes representing other sports.
Utilisation of the Centre over its first 12 months has included teams and athletes representing Bay of Plenty Steamers, All Black Women’s 7’s, All Black Men’s 7’s, St Kildas AFL Football Team, NZ Men’s Blacksticks, NZ Women’s Blacksticks, Steve Adams from Oklahoma City Thunder, Black Caps Cricket, Northern Districts Cricket, White Ferns Cricket, Magic Netball Team, NZ surf Lifesaving, and Chiefs Rugby Team.
New Zealand Rugby General Manager Rugby Neil Sorensen said the Centre has been a “fantastic base” for the All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens teams who regularly train there. “It’s a world class facility which has improved the ability for our players to step up to the next level and perform on the international stage. The teams love the space because it has everything we need in one place. We are focusing more of our time at the Centre and building our Sevens base at the Mount,” Mr Sorensen.
NZ National Women’s Rugby Sevens team captain and Olympic Silver medalist Sarah Goss says the complex gives her a high-performance training environment where she can train with top equipment and become a better athlete.
The Adams Centre manager Justine Brennan says the Centre is well on its way to achieving its aims of providing a world class environment that will contribute to Tauranga City being recognised as a centre of excellence for high performance sport by growing, attracting and retaining more high performance athletes in Tauranga.
Ms Brennan says Tauranga punches well above its weight in terms of the number of athletes produced who go on to compete and succeed on the international stage. But, until now these people had one thing in common – the need to move away from Tauranga to pursue their sporting careers due to a lack of infrastructure in Tauranga.
“And that’s where the University of Waikato Adams Centre for High Performance came in,” she says.
NZ field hockey player and Olympian Rose Keddell says having a facility like the Adams Centre, in Tauranga, is “incredibly beneficial”. She uses it when home in Tauranga, and it enables her to contemplate being BOP-based.
“In the past, it has been difficult to find a facility that parallels what we have in Auckland (Millenium Institute) and therefore it could be hard to replicate the level of training that I need to in the gym.
“Now with the Adams Centre, this is no longer a problem as the facility is world-class and has absolutely everything I need. It would be great in the long term to be based here permanently and use the Adams Centre as my number one training facility - especially as it is a short walk across the road to the hockey turf”.
Ms Brennan says the Centre will be building on its first year of success stories. Things in store will include attracting more national sporting organisations (NSO’s) and enabling more top, local athletes to use the Centre.
She has some NSO’s firmly in her targets, with conversations focused around having them either permanently based in Tauranga, or using the centre for training camps. The benefits of this would extend to the general sporting community, Ms Brennan says.
“Future aspirations also include getting more local athletes with talent – those who are competing on the national stage – through the Centre.
“By making our high-performance service available at a local level, the competitiveness of our Tauranga athletes will rise significantly on the national stage. This is a focus area for this year,” Ms Brennan says.
The Centre provides both a training and research hub, with an eligibility criteria in place for it use. It is a leading provider of testing and research into sport science and human performance, and Mr Jones says work is this area – being undertaken by the University’s high performance specialists - is contributing to the Centre’s success. The centre is equipped with the very latest in sports science and research capability – it boasts the only environmental chamber in New Zealand capable of controlling heat, humidity and altitude. It also features the largest high performance gym in New Zealand in terms of floor space.
The centre’s advisory board chairperson Stephanie O’Sullivan acknowledges the critical world-class investment from University of Waikato in terms of sport science and human performance and the facilities that make this Centre different.
The creation of the high performance centre involved the transformation of the old, disused Mt Maunganui Cosmopolitan Club at Blake Park into a world-class training environment for athletes. This was a Bay Venues’ initiative, supported by Tauranga City Council.
At the official opening a year ago, the mix of speeches included acknowledgement of the philanthropy of the Paul Adams’ Bethlehem Charitable Trust, and the vision shown by Bay Venues chief executive Gary Dawson to transform an old, disused building into a world-class high performance sport centre.