New Zealand women gear up for Olympic dream
The Olympic dream got a little closer for 49 young women from around New Zealand who have been selected for the next phase of the country's Go4Gold New Zealand Women's Sevens programme.
Following the success of the Go4Gold recruitment programme, from which over 1,000 female athletes were registered, New Zealand Women's Sevens Coach Sean Horan has selected a group of players to take part in several training camps over the next few months.
The ultimate goal of the programme is to select and develop a Women's Sevens team to contest for a gold medal in the Rio de Janeiro Summer Games in 2016, when Rugby Sevens makes its Olympic debut for both men and women.
The last of 14 talent identification camps was held in Counties Manukau last week and athletes have been drawn from a wide range of sporting codes, including football, netball, rowing and hockey.
"We have now identified an initial group of players that will form the base of our programme as we work towards Rio," said Horan.
"These players have been given development programmes to work on and we will monitor their progress through a series of domestic training camps over the next 12 months," he said.
Under Horan, New Zealand will look to begin attending invitational international tournaments in the latter half of the year to further develop the team.
"These first eight or nine months have really been about building a base of players here at home that will form the foundations of our Olympic programme. We believe that this will put us in the best position in four years' time to be on that podium in Rio," he added.
A smaller group of 28 players has been selected to attend the first of the next phase of camps at the Waiouru Military Training Facility from 8-10 June. Camps involving the wider group of players will take place later in the year.
The 28 players selected for the Waiouru Camp are: