2.30am, my trip had begun. After not much sleep, I was rushed to the club to meet the other boys – all buzzing with excitement to leave for Japan. This was going to be the longest time away from home; 2 weeks’ training in Japan with the Japanese National team, soaking up the culture and getting a sniff of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, followed by 2 weeks in Slovenia, honing our skills in the cold clear water before heading off to Romania for 1 week with the competition on the last 4 days.
Japan is the most outrageous country I have ever been to. JDM cars, raw food, fast trains and chopsticks! We trained in Komatsu Ishikawa, where very few people speak English. However, the hospitality that we received was second to none and we had no problem communicating with a mixture of sign language, funny faces and odd noises. The 2 weeks flew by and it was such an honour when all the Japanese athletes went to the airport to see us off.
After many hours in the air we arrived to blue skies, clear cold water and old mates. Slovenia. Training continued, however U23 team was definitely more focused on why we were there.
Business time came around quickly. We arrived in Romania where we would be competing against the best in the world. But first we had to get from the airport to the hotel in one piece! Our van driver must have thought he was a race car driver and everyone else on the road also thought they were race car drivers. I witnessed two car crashes in a week. But I had to stay focused; the months of freezing morning trainings in New Zealand will come down to the race in 2 days.
We had the current U23 European Champs, Russia, in our heat. 1st place in the heat goes straight through to A final. We accepted the fact that would probably have to race a semi. Nerves were high. I remember lining up and loving the feeling, thinking about all the things I had done in my life to reach this point. The gun went, we got to the half way mark, 250m, with a full K4 boat length on the Russians! We went for it and got the win! NZ U23 straight through to the A final! We ended up coming 9th in the A final which is a great result for us. It wasn’t that we had a bad race it was just that the other teams were faster. We aim to drop 3 seconds on our personal best for next year, which is very achievable – thus placing us in medal territory.
Over all it was the best trip I have has so far and I am really excited for what the future holds.
It was Pirate Day this last weekend, and we had one of our awesome instructors, Sam, take on the peg-legged pirate race! Sam raised an amazing total of $2600 cash to go towards our adaptive snow sports program to get everyone out and having fun on the snow.
A huge thank you to everyone that sponsored Sam and helped to raise some extra cash for a fantastic program. Find out more about our Adaptive Sports team and options here: https://www.nzski.com/queenstown/lessons/adaptive-programme
I am an up and coming New Zealand track and field athlete specialising in the 100m & 200m.
At the start of this year I was privileged enough to have the Bobby Stafford-Bush Foundation support me to help further my athletics career. Without their support I wouldn’t have been able to compete in a number of events around the world. Most recently I wouldn’t have been able to compete at the World U20 Athletics Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Not only was competing on an international stage for the first time amazing but getting to learn, see and experience so many different cultures had to be the highlight of my trip.
Thank you for opening so many doors for me and giving me the opportunity to achieve my sporting goals and aspirations without having to worry about any financial issues.
I was lucky enough to be supported by the foundation to chase my dream of sprinting at the Olympics games and although I did not succeed in getting to the Olympics I had an amazing journey where I experienced a whole new world and gained knowledge unobtainable on New Zealand shores.
A last minute opportunity arose to head to the UK and train with some of the fastest athletes in the world. After convincing the Foundation I was worth a shot, I had just 10 days to prepare before my 28hr flight to London. I was so excited I got a total of 1.5hrs sleep on the flights over.
In London, I trained daily with guys much faster that I had ever experienced in my life. Not only was it mind blowing, but I physically struggled with accessing my speed. Each time I hit the go button nothing would happen, but it gave me the chance to examine what these faster guys were doing from arguably the best seat in the house.
By my 4th week by speed had finally returned and I was feeling amazing. My body was in the best shape it had even been in and I was ready to throw down something quick. Unfortunately my luck was about to run dry.
I set out to catch my flight to Switzerland the day before the race on top of ‘Magic Mountain’ (named due to the amazing performances achievable there). As I arrived at the airport I learned that my flight there had been cancelled. The airline wasn’t offering a plan B option until the day after my race so I searched for alternative options and rushed to another airport in an effort to make another flight in time, but failed there also. There was one other flight that day so I booked that, headed to the airport and waited as that flight became more delayed as time went on. I could only keep laughing at my situation as I knew at some stage my luck would have to turn around in a big way to balance everything out.
By the time I had arrived in Switzerland the last train to Magic Mountain had just left the station. My next best option, and to avoid any more ‘bad luck’ I pulled up a trolley and spent the night in the airport, determined to catch the very first train in the morning.
Convinced that my luck was turning around, I caught the train and got the Magic Mountain with just over an hour to spare before my first race which I jogged through very comfortably to make the final. After a quick power nap, I lined up for the final, feeling positive and fast. I exploded from the blocks well and flew down the track increasing my pace with every step until I hit half way, and felt a grab in my left hamstring. Grinning and shaking my head, I stopped running, realizing that my bid for the Olympics was over.
I always knew going over that one of two things was going to happen. A. I was going to qualify for the Olympics or B. I was going to return a new athlete. And with all that I learned from this experience there was no real chance of failure. We either win or we learn and I am now better equipped with the knowledge of my body, what is possible and how I am going to get there.
Thank you for the opportunity and ability to return with the new tools and experience to go faster.
I just returned from Las Vegas last week from the World Hip Hop Champs and I wanted to share our success with you. My crew “The Royal Family Varsity” was up against 60 mega-crews in the world. We got through Prelims placing 3rd and Semi’s placing 5th…this qualified us for finals but we figured something wasn’t right with our routine so we changed the whole thing straight after Prelims, working through the night and performed it the next day at Finals. I am really excited to tell you that we have placed 3rd in the world! I have attached the video clip of our final performance and a photo of our bronze medal. It is through your kindness and generosity that I have been able to work hard towards achieving a medal. It was an incredible experience and I was so proud to represent my country. I thank you once again for your support.
I am currently pursuing my goals in the sport of athletics. The start of this process begins later this year and a large chunk in 2017. I am beginning my plans early however as I want to be highly prepared and leave no stone turned from here on out as I begin to try and achieve my ambitious goals.
In 2012 I was extremely close to qualifying for the London Olympics running a time in the 400m of 46.40 and the Olympic qualifying time being 45.80. However since then I developed an Illness which resulted in me being admitted into hospital for a number of days with gastrointestinal and kidney problems after each time I ran 400m race. This became such an issue that I had to give up my dream of attending the 2016 Olympics in the 400m.
Because of this from 2012 through to 2015 I focussed on the 100m and 200m events where I won 2 Bronze medals in the national championships in the 100m and also a silver and a gold in the national championships for the 200m where I am the current 200m national champion. Although this was a successful change of event I have since strived for more and set my short term focus on medalling in the 800m for the 2018 Commonwealth Games I have already made some large sacrifices to attempt this:
1. Moving to Wellington to train with Steve Willis (renowned running coach in New Zealand)
2. Taking up a part time job (24 hours) So I can train as a full time athlete
3. Did a number of tests to test my upper V02 limits and future potential in the event
The Commonwealth Games in 2018 is only the beginning of my goal, from here I aim to attend the World Championships and Olympics and have an end goal of breaking Sir Peter Snells record. In addition to this I want to inspire youth and people at risk to chase their dreams and always live their life.
I arrived home this morning from my trip away to Chile for the Junior World Cup with the New Zealand U21 team. I had an incredible time and have made memories that will last a lifetime.
I just want to say a huge thank you again for making the incredible opportunity a reality, it was an experience that I not only enjoyed, but also learnt a large amount from.
Below I’ve written about my time over there, I have also attached a couple of photos of the team and myself playing over there.
We headed off in the afternoon on the day of my last school exam, so it was fairly manic getting all packed as I’d really had very little time to get everything sorted. However, my hope was that the tight schedule would mean I would feel very tired and would therefore sleep on the plane over. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case and I had a restless 10 hour flight, but we made it to Chile and our very nice hotel, all in good nick.
The accommodation was sorted for us by the International Hockey Federation, so it was really up-market… equipped with a pool, limitless internet and it included breakfast, which was a treat every morning! We arrived 6 days before the official tournament started which gave us a good amount of time to adjust to the time zone, temperature (averaged about 32 degrees) and the different pitch/stadium which held about 4000 people, so had an awesome atmosphere. We also played two warm up games against Japan and Argentina (who went on to win the tournament), which were really good to get a full hit out before official proceedings began.
Heading into the first game against Belgium, everyone was really nervous, but also really excited to get a long campaign actually under way. The outcome was obviously not what we wanted, and it was disappointing to not get the result we hoped for, particularly after having most of the possession. It was a similar story over the next two games, which left us bottom of our pool and only able to play off, at best, for 13th place (which we achieved scoring 24 goals!). At the time this was heartbreaking as we had put so many days and hours into preparing for the event, but did not achieve anything near what we had hoped. Despite being hard at the time, I have learnt a huge deal from the disappointment and am now even more motivated to continue playing and improving, as I don’t want to have the same feeling again. It is a bitter sweet thing where you tend to learn more from failures than successes, so the importance of the preparation, along with being able to perform when it counts, is something that I now fully understand. The following two games didn’t quite have the same excitement or anticipation as the previous three, but it was good to comfortably win both matches and as a team score some really good goals. Alongside playing ourselves we were able to watch a number of other games, including the final which was really good, as there were a number of players at the tournament who play at top level and went to the Olympics so I picked up on a lot from just watching them.
Despite the result, the whole thing was an incredible experience and an event in my life I’m sure I won’t forget. The group that I was away with were so much fun and I’ve made friends that I will definitely stay in touch with long term, despite some of them living miles away! The country itself was eye opening, going in I didn’t appreciate the amount of disparity there is in Chile. Driving from the airport to the accommodation we passed shanty towns which were struggling to make a living, but then also many fancy buildings, including the tallest in South America, so it was a bizarre thing to see. Having a couple of rest days we were able to explore Santiago a bit more which was really cool. We visited a coastal town called, Valparaiso, which contained hundreds of coloured buildings, which was one of my highlights, along with going to a massive street market.
A massive thank you again for your support, it is greatly appreciated.
Dear Bobby Stafford-Bush Foundation
I am writing to you with exciting news! I am currently performing the role of Lucette, or Cendrillon (Cinderella) as she calls herself, in UCLA Opera’s production of Massenet’s Cendrillon. I have been advised that my final performance on Sunday will be live-streamed from UCLA at 2pm US Pacific time (or 11am Monday 27th NZST).
We opened last Friday February 17 at The Freud Playhouse to wonderful reviews with Christopher Ocasek, a talented visiting conductor from Washington National Opera and UCLA Opera Director Peter Kazaras (who just debuted his direction with LA Opera) as stage director and Kevin Williamson as choreographer.
This production is set in Paris 1947 — with Dior and The New Look, the first postwar Paris Auto Show, French cinema! The show runs 2 hours and 20 minutes, is performed in French with English supertitles.
I have attached some still shots from last Friday’s performance, I would absolutely love to share this performance with you and am very happy to have this opportunity for you to watch it and see my progress.
Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) has just run a hugely successful free event at Torbay.
Getting ready for a snorkel! From left: Micheal Bankart (13), Samantha Hughes, Kelsey Banwick, Elissa Wilson (7), guide Courtney Shaw and Cody Eagle (13) – Taken by Lorna Doogan.
Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) provided free snorkelling with gear and guide for 130 people at Waiake Bay, Torbay on Saturday the 4th of February.
The day in full swing!- Taken by Lorna Doogan
Yellow eyed mullet – Taken by Matthew Jones
We’re incredibly grateful for the ongoing relationship we have with the Bobby Stafford-Bush Foundation.
A special thanks to the foundation for the fantastic new Red Epic camera very kindly purchased by you!
We’ve kept ourselves busy by:
- Speaking to over 12000 people this year
- Sent the book and DVD to every school in NZ and the Cook Islands – over 2560 schools
- Been on a National Tour around NZ speaking at different schools
- Spoke at TEDx Auckland and NYLD (National Young Leaders Day)
- Filmed Series 2 and it screened on ‘What Now’ to over 100,000 kids – including 3 episodes filmed at the Kermadecs, 3 in the Cook Islands and 3 at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef.
Young Ocean Explorers
Dear Bobby Stafford-Bush Foundation Trustees
Thank you very much for sponsoring the EMR Poor Knights trip! I am very grateful to you for helping make this happen. I come from Wellington, so if you hadn’t funded the flights I wouldn’t have been able to come.
The EMR programme is an incredible opportunity to learn about the oceans & has really opened a door into a whole new world for me.
The trip has really inspired me, given me lots to think about & given me yet another reason to push ahead with my action project. It was a great opportunity to meet other kids interested in marine life & was an excellent demonstration of how the aquatic world flourishes when protected.
Thanks again and best wishes,
I am writing to let you know how I got on in America at the World Hip Hop International Championships this year. I am really sorry it has taken me this long. I hit the ground running with NCEA Prelim Exams when I arrived home and then have been working hard for my Final exams which I have just finished this week.
The crew I am apart of this year; Sorority Dance Crew, placed 4th in Finals by 0.01 which was incredibly close which made it even harder, however this result out of hundreds of crews was still something to be very proud of. Our finals performance has received around 50 million views to this day! The response from people has been incredible. This video shows our performance.
Thank you for providing me financial support and supporting me with this opportunity – without this I wouldn’t have been able to achieve and live my dream once again. I am forever grateful to you.
I hope you are well and would love to catch up sometime.
Good morning, I just thought I would send a message to update the Bobby Stafford-Bush Foundation on my progress at UCLA since the last letter I sent just before Christmas.
I recently had my American début performance in the demanding role of Fiordiligi for the UCLA Opera Division Production of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte which was met with much success and in May I will perform the role of Micaela from Peter Brooks’ Tragedy of Carmen. I am learning so much and the faculty and students here are truly inspiring!
It is with great pleasure that the SEA CLEANERS Trust can endorse the amazing support of the Bobby Stafford-Bush Foundation.
The generous donations that have helped us launch and run a new vessel the “Bobby Stafford-Bush”, which helps our team, to engage the local communities and volunteer support to aid us with our mission to remove rubbish from the Sea, is sincerely appreciated.
We look forward to a very successful future working together to raise awareness and to take positive action to remove marine litter from our Oceans.
Captain Hayden Smith