Sports administration: Effort underestimated

Peter Miskimmin
Peter Miskimmin
New Zealanders do not understand how well the country did at the London Olympics, with a haul of six gold medals "fairly unique" for a small nation, Sport New Zealand chief executive Peter Miskimmin says.

Miskimmin was speaking at the Otago School of Physical Education's symposium, The Future of Sport in Small Nations, which began on Wednesday and ends today.

The public underestimated how well New Zealand had done at the Olympics, he told those at the symposium.

"I don't think they understand that getting six gold medals is a fairly unique thing for a small nation."

There was a danger this would lead to unfair expectations at the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, he said.

New Zealand's overall achievement at the Games - 13 medals in six sports - was especially significant.

All the countries that out-performed New Zealand on a per-capita basis won their medals in only one discipline, which was sprinting, he said.

Miskimmin also spoke about the challenges of staying competitive as a small nation, adding there were some advantages to being small.

This included having a more streamlined and efficient organisation structure than many larger countries, where multiple organisations carried out the same roles.

"We are small and small helps, because we can be nimble," he said.

However, it would continue to be tough to compete, as more countries were competing for the same number of medals.

This increase in competitiveness was shown by the increase in the number of countries who were winning medals at the Olympics.

Given New Zealand's talent pool was only so big, and there were only so many resources, a point would eventually be reached where the country could do no better on the world stage, Miskimmin said.