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Programme offers youngsters 'everything'

Programme offers youngsters 'everything'

Programme offers youngsters 'everything'

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Hannah O'Connor, 17, has travelled all over the globe for her athletics yet she says when she's back home in New Plymouth she receives world-class care.

O'Connor was injured late last year but she said because of her involvement in the Taranaki-based Future Champions Programme she was back in her running shoes in no time.

The programme, which is in its 12th year, is run by Sport Taranaki and Taranaki Secondary Schools Sports Association and gives selected athletes support and development through a series of workshops including nutrition, mental skills, leadership and more.

O'Connor is now in her third year in the secondary school programme and this year is joined by eight new athletes and a couple who have been involved before.

During the end of last year the 17-year-old, who is the New Zealand champion for her age and under 20s in 3000 metre and 1500m running, the under 18 secondary schools champion in Australia as well as the 2000m New Zealand steeplechase champion, received an injury that she thought would knock her out for the athletic season.

It was a stressed reaction in her foot and also a sprain, she spent four weeks in a moon boot, but said due to the prompt care she received in Taranaki she was running again eight weeks later.

She puts this down to the programme.

"When I got injured everyone knew about it and they were able to arrange things within a day," O'Connor said. "Everything was managed really well.

"All my other athletic friends have to wait so long for things."

She said she even had a friend who travelled to the region for the prompt care.

"One of my running friends from Palmerston North came to New Plymouth for physio."

O'Connor said the same sort of treatment is offered through Athletics New Zealand it isn't local to Taranaki, so she'd have to travel to get the benefits. 

"But it doesn't matter, we get everything here anyway."

This year's athletes selected for the Future Champions Programme are: Hannah O'Connor - athletics, and Sasha Reid - swimming and surf lifesaving, from New Plymouth's Sacred Heart Girls' College; Hannah Baker - kayaking and surf lifesaving, Claudia Kelly - surf lifesaving, Brooke Neilsen - rugby and netball, MacKenzie Barry - football, Lee Boon - cycling, and Parris Mason - netball and touch, from New Plymouth Girls' High School; Oscar Robertson - basketball, from New Plymouth Boys' High School;  Jacob Kneepkens - rugby, from of Francis Douglas Memorial College and  Keegan Joe - Volleyball, from Spotswood College. 

The programme starts in term two and runs through to the end of term three.

 - Stuff

JANE MATTHEWS