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Event success stimulates sport development

Professor Andy Martin has been involved in triathlon as both a participant and event manager for the past 25 years.

Fun, friends, competition, challenges – these are the reasons Kiwi children are lapping up triathlon as a sport.

Professor Andy Martin from the School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition, recently had his research examining the long-term participation and engagement of children taking part in triathlon published in the Annals of Leisure Research journal.

“My research findings highlighted that the main participation factors are fun and enjoyment involving friends, competition, challenge and fitness, as well as tangible outcomes such as spot prizes, goodies and medals,” Professor Martin says.

“The key implications of this study, however are the importance of understanding different age and gender motives, and involving peer, whole family and other sports involvement in engaging children in future participation in sport.”

The study, which was carried out with Dr Rachel Batty from Massey’s School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition, also involved international collaboration with researchers from the University of Pittsburg, United States, Prague School of Economics, Czech Republic, La Trobe University, Australia.

Next month’s I’Tri’d The Tri Series (ITTS) of weekly kids triathlon events will be the 16th managed by Professor Martin and volunteers from the Manawatu Triathlon Club with children aged 4-12 participating each week, many of whom come back year after year.

“Last year, the number of children participating each week increased around 15 per cent when compared to the 2015 figures, when this research began – a growth from an average of 660 kids each week, to a record 756,” Professor Martin says.

“Some of the initiatives that may have helped this increase are greater use of social media, such as Facebook, to enhance peer and whole family, and school engagement. Sport Manawatu and schools have also promoted participation and coaching programme initiatives, encouraging school age children from low-income families to learn to swim and bike, particularly amongst underrepresented schools.”

Professor Martin says to enhance commitment, entry fees have been discounted for pre-entry on-line (NZ$20), rather than a weekly fee, and all participants receive a sponsored t-shirt and drink bottle. “Also to encourage involvement, junior membership to the Manawatu Triathlon Club now includes free entry to the ITTS, and free entry to subsequent events throughout the year.”

Professor Martin is actively involved with triathlon representing New Zealand in the age group World Triathlon Championships with two of his sons who are both part of Massey University’s Academy of Sport. He also teaches sport event management and supervises students undertaking sport practicums where many of the student projects are focused on sport developmentinitiatives.

Massey University’s new Sport Development major within the revised Bachelor of Sport and Exercise will further prepare students for work in the varied and growing area of sport development by providing knowledge in topics such as sport organisational structure and function, event and facility management and sport coaching, along with sociological, performance and business issues linked to sport.

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