Olympic cyclists to oversee changes to high performance

Three-time Olympian Jamie Nielsen joins the committee to oversee the inquiry into Cycling New Zealand’s high performance program.
Photo: supplied/Guy Swarbrick

Two Olympic track cyclists have joined the five-person Integrity Steering Committee to oversee the recommendations from this year’s inquiry into Cycling New Zealand’s high performance program.

The inquiry found the CNZ high performance model was broken and needed to be “reimagined” after the suspected suicide of Olympic cyclist Olivia Podmore in August last year.

In response CNZ released a 10-point plan this year and the independent steering committee will be tasked with monitoring and reporting on the plan and can propose possible solutions, changes to policies, and procedures that will ensure a high performance culture in cycling that is athlete – centered and upholds the highest standards of ethics, integrity and welfare, CNZ said in a statement.

This approach was described as a “blueprint” for other sporting organizations.

Athlete representatives Sam Dakin and Jaime Nielsen, who both attended the Tokyo Olympics, will sit on the committee chaired by Kit Toogood.

Toogood QC, recently completed sitting as a High Court Judge following nearly 40 years of legal practice.

He has advised national sporting organizations on disciplinary and governance matters and conducted sports disciplinary hearings and investigations. He was a foundation deputy chair of the New Zealand Sports Tribunal and remains a member of the panel of arbitrators of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Cycling New Zealand’s nominee on the committee is Simon Wickham and Sport New Zealand nominated Bronwyn Hall.

Nielsen, a former international rower, switched to cycling to become a world championship medalist and a three-time Olympian, returning for the Tokyo Olympics after becoming a new mother. She also has experience in professional road cycling and completed the Oxford Women’s Leadership course last year.

Dakin, based in Cambridge in Cycling New Zealand’s high performance program since 2019, is an Olympian and Commonwealth Games medalist, current co-chair of the Athletes Voice Committee at CNZ and has been heavily involved in athlete and mental health advocacy.

Hall has a background across several business sectors and held senior leadership roles in local and multi-national organizations, leading complex culture change and transformation programs.

She has recently taken up a role as Group Manager People and Culture for Sport New Zealand.

Wickham has three decades of experience in sports management and governance, previously chair of Gymsports NZ and CEO of Yachting NZ.

He served on the Board of New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) and was their representative on the Board of High Performance Sport NZ. He is currently chair of NZOC’s selection panel and employed as chief executive officer of specialist law firm Harkness Henry.

CNZ Transformational Director, Kereyn Smith, who is an ex officio member of the committee said the steering committee was a

“cornerstone” of the response to the inquiry.

“A key is the independence of this committee and its members and the positive impact that they will have on the oversight of the implementation of the recommendations as outlined by the inquiry,” Smith said.

“In doing so, this approach could potentially provide a blueprint for sporting organizations to consider for high performance programs and integrity matters going forward.”