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Official opening of the University of Waikato Adams Centre for High Peformance

NZ Womens Rugby 7's Team perform their pre match waiata (top)
Chef de mission, Rob Waddell with the University of Waikato Deputy Vice Chancellor, Alister Jones (left) Benefactors, Cheryl & Paul Adams with Manager of High Performance, Justine Brennan (right)

In less than 100 days Rob Waddell will be performing Olympic Games duties, but last night he was at another event of sporting significance.

The New Zealand chef de mission and rowing great was in Tauranga as guest speaker at the official opening of the University of Waikato Adams Centre for High Performance.

Rob Waddell said the centre was a great thing for New Zealand sport, with facilities allowing NZ to stay at the leading edge.

Located at Mt Maunganui's Blake Park, the centre features the largest high performance gym in New Zealand in terms of floor space. It is also equipped with the very latest in sports science and research capability – it boasts the only environmental chamber in New Zealand capable of controlling heat, humidity and altitude.

The centre has come about as a result of collaboration between the university, the Tauranga City Council, and Bay Venues. The University of Waikato is the facility's tertiary partner.

The University of Waikato deputy vice chancellor Alister Jones told the large crowd gathered how, as tertiary partner, the University had established a laboratory for sport science research, education and commercialisation. The state-of-the art environmental chamber is part of that laboratory.

"The centre's environmental chamber is one of a small number of such facilities within Australasia and will be a draw-card for athletes and teams preparing for international sporting events where the combination of heat and humidity are likely to impact performance."

The centre was closely aligned, he said, with the University's strategy to build expertise and national leadership in sport science, health and human performance. It will complement the elite sport research occurring at the Home of Cycling Trust Avantidrome near Cambridge, which the University is also the tertiary partner for.

The high performance centre already hosts men's and women's NZ Rugby 7's squads and Bay of Plenty Rugby, and Professor Jones acknowledged the intension to extend that to attract more regional and national sporting organisations with a team sport focus.

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said his city had a vision to attract and retain talent.

"The process can take a long-time but, in the spirit of partnership and private and public energy, this is being achieved."

A host of dignitaries attended the opening with these also including University of Waikato chancellor the Right Hon James Bolger and Vice Chancellor Neil Quigley, Hon Simon Bridges, Dame Susan Devoy, Sir Gordon Tietjens, Mayor Ross Paterson, Chairman of the BOPRC Doug Leeder, Paul and Cheryl Adams, kaumatua Kihi Ngatai and Bay Venues Ltd chairman Peter Farmer.

The mix of speeches included acknowledgement of the philanthropy of the Paul Adams' Bethlehem Charitable Trust, and the vision shown by Bay Venues chief executive Gary Dawson to transform an old, disused building into a world-class high performance sport centre.