From afar: Christmas presents for good boys and girls

How do you fairly slice up the traditional pudding (which hasn't increased in size since last season) even though there are more eager guests around the table awaiting their portion?

That was a predicament High Performance Sport New Zealand (or ''Santa'' to athletes and sport organisations throughout New Zealand) found itself in recently, and it has ultimately decided who will and won't get the portions they want.

Much of this decision-making was based on 2012 performances, and on who is likely to help HPSNZ achieve its goals of 14 Olympic medals in 2016 and 16 or more in 2020.

It has also broken tradition a little, by allocating public funds to individuals rather than organisations, and in particular Lydia Ko, Luuka Jones, Mike Dawson, Alexis Pritchard, Vaughan Scott and Paige Hareb have been seen as ''good'' boys and girls and are rewarded appropriately, as a result.

Sporting organisations that produced Olympic medals in London (rowing, yachting, cycling and equestrian) have also been satisfied with their helping for 2012 and beyond, while those who didn't live up to expectations (swimming, men's hockey and triathlon) have had their portions and priority status downsized. They must prove their worth soon if they want to get a bigger piece of pie.

Athletics and canoeing have remained on the ''good'' list and have seen their funding increase substantially, something they should thank golden girls Valerie Adams and Lisa Carrington for, while the female Black Sticks avoided the fate of their male counterparts by receiving a boost in their portion of the public funding pud as a result of their valiant fourth placing in London.

A newcomer to the table, rugby, has managed to get a sniff of what is on offer due to the inclusion of sevens in Rio, and it is great to see the women's team is guaranteed $800,000 for 2013.

It is understandable the men's team gets substantially more, based on its proven record and heavier competitive schedule, but is receiving just over 66% of what the men get annually leading up to 2016 enough to guarantee a gold in women's sevens?

Surely it is enough to get the team to the international tournaments it needs to attend in order to qualify, and establish programmes to become world beaters?

If the sevens women do well in 2013, will their funding received from HPSNZ be more equitable with the men's sevens team, which is, on average, $1.2 million a year over four years?

All athletes and sporting codes scrape together what they can to ensure success in the form of world rankings, wins and, it seems most importantly, medals.

Athletes must use private funding, parental support, sponsorship deals and one-off crazy stunts to make ends meet, so they must sigh in relief when HPSNZ flicks a Christmas bonus their way every now and then. It has to take some pressure off them in terms of trying to make ends meet so they can focus on training and competing.

One can't help but wonder if Eric Murray's willingness to take on the Beast in the Ring during the Fight for Life was more to do with needing the cash, rather than making a statement about his boxing capability, bravado, or support of a good cause.

Lisa Carrington has been running up and down sandhills and tossing tyres around as part of her training schedule but also to please her sponsors. And by the looks of that workout, she deserves to tuck into a well-deserved piece of steak, compliments of Beef and Lamb New Zealand, a sponsor she shares with fellow Olympian Sarah Walker and Paralympian Sophie Pascoe.

Meanwhile, those sports and athletes that are out of favour with the Crown and sponsors must survive on the scraps they are thrown and hope a moment to shine will come their way and help them to eventually make it off the naughty list.



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