Athletics: Championships big logistical exercise

New Zealand secondary schools track and field championships organising committee chairman Andrew...
New Zealand secondary schools track and field championships organising committee chairman Andrew Finn inspects the Caledonian Ground yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

It will be a Dunedin experience for the 1364 pupils competing at the New Zealand secondary schools track and field championships at the weekend.

The organising committee has broadened the scope of the 40th annual championships and has given visiting athletes the chance to experience the delights of the city.

The championships was first held at Christchurch in 1973 and it will be the fourth time it has been held in Dunedin. It was also held in 1985, 1991 amd 1991.

''We see it as an opportunity to promote the city, and especially the tertiary institutions,'' the chairman of the organising committee Andrew Finn told the Otago Daily Times.

''One of the aims was to give athletes an experience of life in a hall of residence."

There are 590 athletes and 30 officials booked in the University of Otago halls of residence.

The University of Otago is holding seminars to showcase the university to the visiting athletes and one of the most popular is the tour of the School of Physical Education.

The University and the Otago Polytechnic are providing material to go into the athletes' packs.

Tours have been arranged for athletes to look at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, the university's recreational facilities at Unipol and Cadbury's.

''There are athletes who have never been to Dunedin before and some may not have been to the South Island,'' Finn said.

''We want to give them a memorable experience of the city in the brief time they are in Dunedin.

''It is an opportunity for us to help promote tertiary education in Dunedin to the athletes."

The University of Otago and the Otago Polytechnic will have display tents at the Caledonian Ground during the weekend.

Over the last 18 months Dunedin has hosted the three major participation events on the New Zealand athletics calendar - Colgate Games, New Zealand athletics championships and the New Zealand secondary schools championships.

Finn has been chairman of the organising committee for all three events.

The organising committee has used all the modern forms of media to promote their event using emails, secondary school and Athletic New Zealand contacts.

''We have a Face Book page and have promoted the event at other national secondary schools events,'' Finn said.

''We could have run an athletics meeting very easily. But the add-ons have created challenges that will benefit the sport and the city."

Planning for the event started a year ago with a debrief following the championships at Wellington.

A total of 180 officials and volunteers will be in action at the Caledonian Ground.

Forty officials are coming from outside Otago to officiate.

''Over 1800 volunteers' hours will be needed on Saturdayand another 1500 hours on Sunday,'' Finn said.

The 1364 athletes from 205 schools will contest 2259 events over the weekend.

Auckland Grammar School has the most athletes competing, with 55, followed by Wanganui Collegiate 41, Westlake Boys' High School 39, King's High School 33, Otago Girls' High School 27, Wellington College 27, Christchurch Boys' High School 23 and St Bede's College 23.


At a glance

NZ Secondary Schools Champs Dates: December 7-9.

Venue: Caledonian Ground. Athletes: 1364 from 205 schools. Officials/volunteers: 180.

Most athletes: Auckland Grammar 55.

First held: 1973, Christchurch.


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