Outgoing GM leaves cycling on right track
Outgoing Cycling Southland general manager Mark Hotton is confident he is leaving the organisation in good heart.
Hotton will step away in early 2019 after a three year stint at the helm of arguably Southland's most successful elite sport.
And while Southland continues to enjoy plenty of success at national and international level through riders developed at the SIT Velodrome, it's the structures and processes which has been embedded over the past three years which Hotton is particularly proud of.
"There were a lot of things that needed addressing when I came in. The Health and Safety Act was just coming in and there was a lot to manage there, and restructuring our financial processes so that they could be used as a management tool to help us make decisions," he said.
By the time Hotton departs the Cycling Southland office which overlooks New Zealand's first covered velodrome, the organisation will have most of the policies required of a modern regional sports body, along with strong pathways which take young riders from their first pedal strokes through to elite representation, with entry points for late arrivals also included along the way.
That approach has seen a dramatic increase in junior numbers, especially junior girls. A few years ago, the under 17 and under 15 track squads would typically have seven to 10 riders in them, now they regularly feature more than 20.
Junior road numbers have risen even more dramatically, from just a handful to about 30 consistently taking part in Saturday racing.
"There have been some hugely positive outcomes. We are seeing more kids on bikes, it's exciting to watch them coming through the pathways we've put in place and loving cycling," Hotton said.
"A lot of that push has come from the coaches, in particular Sid Cumming. He's been invaluable in helping drive what we've wanted to do."
Then there's Cycling Southland's strong focus on events. Bolstered by an enviable volunteer base, events play a significant role in driving revenue and exposure for the sport.
"We do a lot, with a small team. In the past year we've done the SBS Bank Tour of Southland, the Yunca Junior Tour of Southland, three carnivals, we hosted two national track champs, Southland track champs - plus all our weekly sessions and Saturday road races," Hotton said.
Cycling Southland enjoys strong commercial and community funding support for its events, with long-running sponsors like SBS Bank and Yunca, who have supported the junior tour for 38 years.
Hotton has enjoyed the support he has received from Cycling Southland president Reece McDonald, and Lindsay Jordan before him, and a diverse board which recently appointed two new female members.
Amongst the highlights of the past three years has been the continued support from the community for the Tour of Southland, still New Zealand's premier cycling race, and the dominance of Southland riders on the track.
"I loved last year's Tour of Southland. The weather played a part in that, but we also got amazing feedback after the race. The media coverage was great, the feedback from the riders was great and the racing was really close. Being able to host two track nationals in a year - there's so much work involved in that, but we had good structures in place," he said.
"Seeing the number of riders that we produce consistently, who are achieving on the national and world stage. Corbin Strong winning at junior worlds this year, Bradly Knipe winning two years ago, Tom Sexton and Emma Cumming as well. Watching those guys come through and being leaders for the next generation as well, it's a cliché, but we punch above our weight."