Katia Mackenzie competing. PHOTO/FILE

JAKE BELESKI

jake.beleski@age.co.nz

Funding is one of the biggest barriers amateur athletes face in their quest for elite competition, especially when their chosen sport is not particularly common.

The Wairarapa Sports Education Trust is constantly working to make that barrier a little easier to hurdle, and runners, powerlifters and barefoot water skiers are just a few types of athlete who have benefitted from their assistance in recent months.

Over the past nine years, $142,000 has been made available by the trust to Wairarapa athletes and sporting codes, with an estimated $22,000 to be splashed out this year.

Rathkeale College’s Max Spencer has his sights set on making the World Under-20 Athletics Championships in Finland and said the support of the trust had made his journey much smoother.

“There is no way I could get this sort of competition here in Masterton, so I have to travel throughout the country to run good times.

“I am very grateful I have been given the opportunity to travel to all these meets — the national secondary school championships taught me that to succeed, you must focus on the process and growth, not on the title, and this vital lesson couldn’t have been achieved without the trust’s support.”

Spencer said the gear he purchased with the funds from the trust would help provide the little advantages that make all the difference at the top level.

Wairarapa College powerlifter Katia Mackenzie will take part in the IPF World Classic Powerlifting Championships in Canada in June, and said she was thankful for the funding she received from the trust.

“This has contributed significantly towards the expenses of going to the World Powerlifting Championships in Canada.

“I’m looking forward to competing in Canada and representing New Zealand.”

Applications for the next round of funding close on May 15, and the trust will also award up to three scholarships of $500 each at next month’s Wairarapa Times-Age Sports Awards, with applications for those scholarships closing on June 1.

Barbara Barton of the trust said there had been a focus on group funding in recent times, including contributions to the Nippers programme at Riversdale Beach and coaching for women’s cricket.

The trust’s biggest fundraiser is their annual golf tournament, which is scheduled for June 22.