Supporters’ Testimonials

PETER SNELL

Triple Olympic Gold Medalist and New Zealand’s Athlete of the 20th Century.

“It has been a frequent observation of mine that outstanding individuals, in their developmental years, are the product of outstanding mentors in many fields, including Athletics. Pockets of excellence can always be traced to the influence of a dedicated coach. For example the many world-class athletes in the western suburbs of Auckland in the 1960s did not arise by accident but through the inspiration and guidance of Arthur Lydiard.

Greg Lautenslager is in the mould of Arthur Lydiard. The success of Nelson teenager runners is not due to chance circumstances. Nelson, through this Academy has the opportunity to show the rest of New Zealand that investment in knowledgeable, dedicated coaches is an investment that will unlock the potential of talented young athletes.”

ROD DIXON

Olympic bronze medalist and 1983 New York City Marathon Champion.

“This is so very exciting and well over due. Fortunately you know every aspect of this proposal and the effects and benefits to Nelson, the high school athletes and the young people.
Nelson has, and is the BEST training environment in the world for runners and other sports in conditioning and training. I have seen the best, been to the best and there is no doubt Nelson has the best environment. The Japanese seem to think so too and I have often visited with them and shared my training routes etc.

Please know you have my 100% support. I will do everything I can to support, offer advice, to sit on your board of directors, coaching or however I can be of assistance. In Greg you have a top man, coach and leader.”

DICK QUAX

Olympic silver medallist and former 5,000 metres world record holder.

“I have known Greg Lautenslager from my days when I was coaching the Nike International team – Athletics West in Eugene, Oregon in the early 1980s.

Whilst Greg was not a member of that team he received coaching advice from myself and other coaches, exercise physiologists and others supporting an elite distance running programme.Clearly, Greg has transferred much of what was learnt during that time to suit his own personal coaching style to attain such impressive results with young people of the Nelson district.

To quote legendary coach Arthur Lydiard there are champions everywhere, they just need to be found and given the right coaching. Nelson is indeed fortunate to have a talented coach in Greg Lautenslager who I am sure will unearth many young champions of the future in your region.”

LORRAINE MOLLER

Lydiard Foundation.

Four-time Olympian and bronze medallist in the 1992 Olympic Women’s Marathon.

“One person with sufficient drive, knowledge and enthusiasm can inspire and guide our youth to great things. In sport this has been shown repeatedly throughout New Zealand history; world beaters, under the wing of a dedicated coach, springing from humble beginnings to distinction on the world stage. No better example springs to mind than Arthur Lydiard and his group of Olympic champions. In the same spirit, Greg Lautenslager has single-handedly created opportunities for young athletes that might have otherwise died out as it has in many places in New Zealand. I whole-heartedly applaud the move for the City of Nelson to instigate the Academy with Greg at the helm. Such foresight sets a precedent for all of New Zealand and keeps our great sporting legacy alive.”

ROGER ROBINSON

International running writer, author, announcer, television commentator, and former world-class runner.

“New Zealand has long been a training destination for world-ranked distance runners. Among many who have spent the Southern Hemisphere summers here in their peak years are Priscilla Welch (UK, New York marathon winner), Dieter Baumann (Germany, Olympic 5000 gold medallist), and Uta Pippig (Germany, Berlin & Boston marathon winner). On this basis, my wife Kathrine Switzer and I, in about 1990, developed with Rotorua’s Tourism and Development Board a quite advanced proposal to establish there a distance running academy, with facilities to attract overseas athletes as well as assist emerging New Zealand ones.

After a relatively lean period, New Zealand running is now improving dramatically, with the Commonwealth and Olympic performances of Nick Willis and Kimberley Smith, and world-class road racing results by others such as Nina Rillstone and Liza Hunter-Galvan. The timing for establishing a distance-running centre is the best for three decades, in terms of attracting sponsor and public support.
In brief, the requisites for such a development are:

  • climate
  • terrain
  • leadership
  • local support.

Nelson clearly has the best year-round climate and running terrain in New Zealand, perhaps in the world – even better than Rotorua, where the idea was short-sightedly allowed to lapse.

The need for good leadership makes it appropriate to link this proposal with the availability and proven skills of Greg Lautenslager. Writing about the New Zealand Secondary Schools Championships in the magazine VO2Max in January 2007, I paid tribute to what he has accomplished for Nelson. An extract follows:

‘. . . The results exploded through the tape several times on December 10th. Julian Matthews had never won a national title, but as that flailing pack of four came off the last bend in
Christchurch, and Ejigu faded, Matthews was the one who found the resolve for a 3:57.33 win. Last lap 53.8, mainly from distance work (”his fastest 400 in training has been 60 seconds,” said Lautenslager).

Dallas Bowden was even more uncompromising in seizing the senior boys’ 800, half a second clear and going away in 1:52.99. But the best story of sheer resolution out of Nelson was Dominic Channon in the 3000 metres. Struck low by chicken pox two weeks before, he missed a full week’s training, struggled out of bed, felt flat, and got dropped by the leaders before halfway. But defiantly, almost impossibly, he came back with a 2:35 last 1000 metres, to burgle second. A spotty race, maybe, but it ended with a burst.
Lautenslager’s Nelson athletes won 23 medals in all’ (© Roger Robinson)

Since then, I have watched Dominic Channon win the National junior cross-country championship, and represent New Zealand with a world-class run at the World Cross-Country Championships in Edinburgh, proof that Lautenslager’s abilities extend to the international level.

Clearly this is a good idea. The combination of Nelson’s reputation as a tourist destination and training venue, with Lautenslager’s record as a coach makes it fully worth pursuing. While clearly it would be of more than local value, the reality is that it will require local enterprise and strong support, which would be well placed and much to the benefit of the region.”

NICK WILLIS

Bronze medalist at the 2008 Olympic 1500 metres. Gold medallist in the same event at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

“Greg Lautenslager has been the number one reason why I have paid personal attention to Nelson Athletics. Soon after his arrival in the region, athletes from Nelson starting popping up on the national radar, and producing some performances not seen in New Zealand for a long time. I initially thought that Dallas Bowden was a one of a kind kid, but Greg continued to have success with athlete after athlete. I have now had the privilege to have hosted Dallas Bowden, Dominic Channon, and Julian Mathews at my training base in Michigan USA. I have full confidence that all three of these runners will represent New Zealand at the Olympic or Commonwealth games in the near future. The system and team environment that Greg provided for them in Nelson is what opened their eyes to the sport of athletics, and how far their talent can take them. I have no doubt that many many other kids will follow in the years to come also.”