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Academy Southland member Laura Thompson at the velodrome in Invercargill.

John Hawkins/Stuff

Academy Southland member Laura Thompson at the velodrome in Invercargill.

Para cycling coach Laura Thompson and her 10 month-old son Patrick have flown together in 38 planes as the busy mother travels to events and training camps nationally and overseas.

One of the trips was to the world championships in Rio de Janeiro in March.  

Motherhood fits in with Thompson’s career path which will hopefully see her represent New Zealand at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

She is a coach for the New Zealand para cycling team, oversees the national development squad and a talent identification officer. 

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In a move to learn more skills, Thompson is in the Academy Southland coach development intake for this year. Seven applications from different sporting coaches were accepted.

“It’s a really good opportunity,” Thompson said.

“I want exposure to [Academy Southland’s] resources and guidance.”

Also, mixing with coaches from other sports and sharing each others experiences was valuable, she said.

Thompson has been a cyclist in New Zealand women’s road and track teams, a member of the national junior women’s basketball team and in a Tall Ferns squad.

In 2008, she rode for the New Zealand road team in France.  

She was a pilot rider for Emma Foy at the Rio Paralympic Games in 2016 (gaining a silver and a bronze), while four years earlier at the London Paralympic Games Thompson performed the same task for Phillipa Gray (three medals – gold, silver and bronze). 

 Academy Southland manager Jason McKenzie said the latest intake for the two-year coaching and athlete programmes comprised a good mix of sports.

As well as Southland experts, the academy brings in coaches and advisors from High Performance Sport NZ and Sport New Zealand to speak to and train members.

In the past 12 years, 17 graduates of the academy have competed at the Commonwealth Games and four at the Olympic Games.

Sports people in the academy’s intake for 2018 are: 

Athletes: Jacob Blomfield, swimming; Sophie-Leigh Bloxham, cycling; Sam Colyer, athletics; Kate Hartley, netball; Sam Hodges, volleyball; Shakira Mirfin, rowing; Beth Scott, ice hockey; Jessica Senior, athletics; Conor Shearing, cycling; Jaxon Taylor, triathlon.

Coaches: Luis Paiva, football; Richard Jones, rugby; Laura Thompson, para cycling; Andrew Rowland, women’s rugby seven; Gerald Patterson, cycling; Mariano Nani, swimming; Jess Huia, netball.


 – Stuff