Kia Ora, an expression absorbed from the native Maori language into New Zealand English, roughly translates to “Hi” and is what greeted the Sparks New Zealand Development Group at every turn on their first day in country. Hailing from four continents with a range of rowing experiences, this year’s group is marked by a diverse pedigree but all are united in their desire to achieve athletic and personal growth over the next five weeks. Getting off the plane, all seemed excited for what was in store for them.
A good bit of fog hanging over the Dunedin airport delayed much of the group from getting in until the afternoon of the first day, so instead of training, the afternoon focused on logistics and the essentials of day to day life in Dunedin. The first full group meeting took place that evening in the living room of the Sahara Guesthouse, the group’s home for our time in Dunedin, and everybody seemed to get on well from the start, even if some were exhausted from 30+ hours of travel.
The next morning the training program started off with a bang: a 2k erg. The goal was to test rowers fitness while they were in less than peak condition after a few days of travel and an accompanying lack of good sleep. Many were off pace from their personal bests, but all pushed through to the finish and set a baseline for their training levels for the coming week before another test where they will be fresher after several days of adjustment to the time zone.