Invercargill coach for NZ team at Australian Athletics Championships in Sydney - Stuff

Finishing work early to coach athletics is part of daily life for Sydney-bound sports official Chris Knight. 

Athletics New Zealand has appointed Knight as a support coach for the national junior development team competing at the Australian Athletics Championships in Sydney next week.

The national body wanted Knight, of Invercargill, to be in the coaching team for last year's Oceania champs but he was unable to spend time away.

The time is right now for the self-employed builder.

"It's a big honour to go away and support other coaches' athletes on the international stage," Knight said. 

The two Southlanders in the 10-strong team are Southland Boys' High School's long jumper Sam Colyer, and triple jumper Andrew Allan, who is in his first year studying at Lincoln University.

Colyer is coached by Knight.

Most of Knight's spare time is taken up by coaching at Surrey Park and officiating as Athletic Southland's president and board chairman.

Knight has been involved with athletics for most of his life with 25 years of competing in jumps, throws and decathlon events.

His best achievements were the gold and silver medals he won in the under-20 high jump at the New Zealand champs. 

He started coaching six years ago.

Seeing athletes he coached succeed at competitions was satisfying, Knight, 45, said.

However, the many hours involved had eaten into family time.

"I've probably given more time to the kids I coached than my own kids," 

Knight and Lance Smith are the highest ranked coaches in Southland with International Association Athlete qualifications.

Three or four others have coaching tickets in the province but more trainers were needed, Knight said.

Coaching seminars were held occasionally by Knight and Smith to encourage people to take up the role.

Knight thought reasons for the shortage could include people not having time to commit and not feeling confident enough to coach.

Knight will add to the problem when he moves back to Christchurch later in the year. He has lived in Invercargill since 2008. 

Meanwhile, Athletics Southland continues to work with community funders to raise $900,000 for the resurfacing of the running track at Surrey Park. An application to the Lottery Grants Board will soon be filed.

Athletics Southland officials have pencilled in August as the date for work to begin. If it commences then, the track will not be ready for use until the second half of next season.