Sarah Cowley-Ross: Rio 2016 – the countdown is on!


In two months time the worlds greatest athletes will descend on Rio with the world watching. 10,000 athletes will compete across 42 Olympic sports from 204 countries. The world will come together to celebrate sport, excellence and the wonderful way in which the Olympics unite the world. It is estimated that 4.8 billion people watched the London Olympics and this audience is set to grow in Rio.

As a sporting nation the Olympics captivates us kiwis. Rio is set to provide lasting sporting memories for New Zealand.

We love nothing more than cheering on our brother’s friend’s cousins and finding a link to someone in the team.

It’s going to be an exciting two weeks for the country.

Whilst what we see as sports fans and proud New Zealanders is in the arena, what we don’t see is the hundreds of hours for the athletes and their support staff to get there. We don’t see the tears, the heartache and then the jubilation for the athletes to get to this point in their sporting careers.

It theorised it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. Some people can take less time and some take more time but it is a worthy consideration when you are watching Richie Patterson throwing weights around in the clean and jerk, Eliza McCartney soaring through the air in the pole vault and Dylan Schmidt catapulting on the trampoline in Rio.

It takes years. It is not just the work of the athlete as well. The saying it takes a village to raise a child, is equally true for an athlete. It’s hard for athletes to single out just one person because the list of key supporters is large.

Right now our Olympic team are in the last weeks of their preparation. The majority of the athletes have left our shores for warmer climates to maximise training and competition opportunities. The Olympics is the ultimate sporting contest and regardless of whether it’s your fourth Olympics or Rio will be the athletes first outing, the Olympics is a pressure cooker environment for all. There are great expectations but I can assure you the greatest pressure that the athletes will face come from within.

Regardless of where our athletes finish in Rio it is a tremendous achievement to get to this level. There are roughly around the same number of All Blacks as New Zealand Olympians.

It’s a privileged club that it is an honour for those in it to be part of. Four years ago I entered that club in London after first dreaming of going to the Olympics at age eight. Twenty years later that dream came true. It was a special time in my life to be representing you all.

As AUT Millennium members you may have well bumped into many of our athletes on your travel around what is also the National Training Centre. You are part of their support network. You are part of the village helping to nurture our athletes to success in Rio. Make sure you sign the well wishes wall and if you do see any athletes still training in New Zealand be sure to give them a friendly good luck. It will mean a lot to them.