Venturing down to the AUT Millennium Indoor Track on the building’s lower ground floor at four o’clock will guarantee you one thing: it will be busy.
Virtually every inch of the indoor track space is utilised and everyone knows where they are going and what they are doing.
Athletes will be going through their pre-training warm up: stretches, sprints and always plenty of laughter.
Some will be chatting with their coaches about the afternoon’s training session. Sprinting, long jump, hurdles. You name it, there will be an athlete participating.
North Harbour Bays Athletics Club are not short of talented people, young and old, who come together every afternoon to learn and improve in the athletics discipline they love.
One other guarantee when you visit the sports hall is the large group of pole vaulters practicing their craft.
At the heart of the training session is Jeremy McColl, a man who has dedicated the last nine years of his life coaching pole vaulting.
McColl’s commitment to the development of his sport is unquestioned. The coach currently has a staggering 26 vaulters under his watch and is the Bays Athletics Head Pole Vault Coach and Athletics New Zealand Lead Pole Vault Coach.
The sport is currently experiencing a growth in popularity and participants with thanks, in the most part, to Eliza McCartney’s success at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Not far behind McCartney is another of McColl’s athletes, Olivia McTaggart, who as recently as November 2016 broke McCartney’s New Zealand under-17 record with a clearance of 4.22m.
McColl says that it’s fantastic that the sport is growing and the facilities at AUT Millennium allow access to everything his athletes need.
“The pole vaulters use all facilities including physio, chiropractor, swimming pool for recovery sessions, hot and cold pools, HPSNZ services and PowerZone gym”, he explains.
“AUT Millennium has provided us with an amazing facility and assistance with mats, runways, uprights, gym and athletics track. Everything is under one roof.”
Until recently, McColl’s pole vaulters have been utilising one pole vault runway outdoors and one indoors.
In January 2016 AUT Millennium completed the construction, with support from Sport New Zealand, of an outdoor double-ended pole vault runway.
The project is seen as an important addition to AUT Millennium’s facilities and for athletes seeking international qualification.
McColl is in agreement and says the run way is a game-changer for athletes.
“The double-ended pole vault runway allows for run-ups to be changed in accordance with the wind direction without having to move the pit.”
“This can save a huge amount of time and gives the pole vaulters the best conditions for training and competitions.”
The project, the only one of its kind in New Zealand, features two runways and a landing area, and is situated at the front of the stadium to add protection from variable wind and weather conditions.
The first major event on the new runway was held a month after completion in February 2016 and saw McCartney break her own New Zealand record with a clearance of 4.71m, beating her previous mark of 4.65m.
Importantly, the new record also saw McCartney qualify for the Rio Olympics.
AUT Millennium CEO, Mike Stanley, explains the goal for the new facility was the development of New Zealand’s talented crop of young pole vaulters, most of whom are under McColl’s watch.
“AUT Millennium is committed to providing athletes with the facilities and services which will assist them to achieve on the world-stage”, he says.