WORLD youth championship archer Ryan Jones and top Southland golfer Liam Hewitt were recognised at the annual Academy Southland celebration evening on Monday.
Jones, who is in the second year of the Academy Southland programme, is the first archer to be selected for the two-year programme.
Hewitt, who is in the first year of the programme, shot to prominence when he became the first Southlander in 40 years to win the New Zealand under-19 amateur title.
In a year when many athletes had their pinnacle events cancelled due to Covid-19, Jones and Hewitt had made the most of the opportunities provided by the Academy, Academy Southland manager Jason McKenzie said.
“The year has been punctuated by disruptions, but Ryan and Liam have both committed themselves to growing
as athletes and people,” he said.
“They have been able to reflect on their performances and apply those learnings to future performances.”
The Academy, which is supported by the ILT Foundation, Community Trust South and the Southern Trust, has been responsive in 2020, continuing to deliver support around mental skills, nutrition, athlete life and strength and conditioning in the face of the pandemic.
Foundation Year athletes only had one physical seminar before going into lockdown, with seminars in the second term held via Zoom.
“The athletes were able to take some comfort, and support each other, as events were being cancelled right across the sporting calendar. With so much uncertainty, there’s been a real focus on the things that the athletes can control,” McKenzie said.
The pandemic also provided some unexpected opportunities, with several Academy graduates returning home and sharing their experience and knowledge.
This included a recent session with New Zealand track cyclist Emma Cumming, and a panel discussion which included Atipa Mabonga, Hannah Miller, Alena Saili, Hamish Beadle, Sammy Murrell, Kate Hartley and Josh Burnett in July.
Sport Southland Foundation Year athlete: Liam Hewitt (golf); Sport Southland Leadership Year athlete: Ryan Jones (archery).