University of CanterburyMonday 13 August 2012, 12:33PM
Media release from University of Canterbury
New Zealand needs to provide greater Olympic funding and not just
for the top medal prospects, according to a University of
Canterbury (UC) lecturer.
If New Zealand only supported athletes with a real medal prospect
for 2016 then New Zealand athletes would either need to be the best
contenders in every discipline or more likely some disciplines
would have to be cut from funding, altogether, UC senior lecturer
Ekant Veer said today.
``If we took that attitude then some of our greatest athletes would
never have had a chance to hone their sport in New Zealand and then
go on to Olympic greatness.
``Beatrice Faumuina didn't come from a country that was especially
known for discus but without funding for up and coming athletes,
she would have never won gold at Manchester in 2002.
``Equally, Valerie Adams shocked the world with her dominance of
shot put, even though we, as a nation, had never lived up to the
traditional powerhouses of eastern Europe. Funding only sure
medallists not only sends the impression that we don't support
effort, but it also can kill a future generation of athletes who
are inspired to step up and be the next gold medallist.''
Veer, from the College of business and Economics, said the London
Games which ended at the weekend had provided a feel-good factor
for New Zealanders. The flow-on effects from a pleased
population are unquantifiable.
New Zealand had had a wonderfully successful campaign in
London. However, as with any major sporting event, there was
always the question of 'was it all worth the cost and effort?', he
``I would argue that New Zealand's representation at the Olympics
was completely worthwhile, but it's almost impossible to quantify
why. Many of the costs associated with attending an Olympics can be
quantified - the hours spent training, the cost of equipment,
travel, accommodation all add up. However, many of the
benefits from attending an Olympic games are abstract and cannot ,
nor should it not, ever be quantified in dollar terms.
``Some of the obvious benefits to New Zealand include the increased
exposure to a world audience, which could lead to increased
tourism. Whenever a small nation, such as New Zealand, is
able to achieve on a world stage it all adds to the identity of our
``Whether it be from New Zealanders winning Oscars or gold medals,
other nations will sit up and pay attention, when before, we may
have been ignored. The costs will never outweigh this impact
of making us more visible to the rest of the world.''
Domestically, national pride from seeing Kiwi athletes competing on
the world stage had been shown to boost an economy, if only
marginally, through increased consumer confidence. However,
the real benefits from national pride included an increased sense
of community and a boost to NZ sense of self.
Veer said New Zealand was a largely sports crazy country and a
successful Olympic campaign could often have a huge impact on the
nation's mood, which, in turn, can lead to increased productivity
at work, improved relationships, increased consumer spending and
all manner of behaviours that are positive for this nation.
Even if a New Zealander was not competing, watching feats of human
excellence brought a workplace closer together.