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Karin Burger: Athletics Wellington’s Sport Development Manager

Karin Burger: Athletics Wellington’s Sport Development Manager  

By Dave Crampton

Karin Burger is the new full time Athletics Wellington Sport Development Manager, having started in May.

Prior to starting at Athletics Wellington, Karin was an executive assistant responsible for special projects at the NZ Institute of Sport.  She has a Diploma in Sport Management and wants to upgrade that to a degree part time.

She is originally from South Africa, where she competed at a national level in the high jump as a teenager, clearing 1.75m as a 15-year old for a bronze medal. She also competed in the javelin and did a few sprints.

“I just ran to win,” she said, as if it was as easy as that.  

While she was involved in athletics for six years from the age of nine, a cartilage injury put paid to athletics and so she took up netball. She was disappointed, as her father also competed in high jump at a national level and she never matched him.

“I was trying to get his PB,” she said.

However, these days, athletics is her job, netball is her sport, and all her family lives in South Africa. 

“If I didn’t play netball I would have been involved with athletics,” she said.

But she is involved with athletics – although not as an athlete. She may well not have been had she not moved to New Zealand for netball seven years ago.

Karin currently plays for the Central Pulse in the ANZ Premiership. She initially played goal defence but recently switched to wing defence. She prefers how sport is run in New Zealand compared to South Africa.

“There’s more opportunity to make it in the sport in New Zealand,” she said. “It’s hard to be a professional athlete in netball (in South Africa).”

Karin was on the Silver Fern Development programme last year, and currently trains and plays up to 15 hours a week. She changed to wing defence to give her a better chance of securing a spot in that position in the Silver Ferns, having been a previous triallist.

While you won’t see Karin at too many cross-country events, you`ll see her a lot at the track in the netball off-season. She knows she has plenty of work to do during the week after her two hours of training at ASB Sports Centre each morning.

One of the first things Karin wants to do is to meet many people in the sport as she can and gain an understanding of how to make processes better and more efficient.

Just don’t expect her to be another Jo Murray. While both Karin and Jo are outgoing, they have different skillsets.   Karin won’t be running around with a camera, but she plans to create events, increase participation, strengthen the development pathway for coaches and officials, and create awareness of the sport for those who are not involved in athletics.

“I`m new in the sport.  The challenge will be to learn the sport, being involved in a new environment. Everyone will have a different idea on how the sport is to be developed.”

One of the things Karin is keen to work on is keeping athletes and others involved with the sport.  She is well aware of the mid-teen drop-off rate in many sports, including in athletics, especially with females.

“I`d like to keep people’s interest in the sport, and to show them that there is a pathway, and show them that it can stay fun,” she said.

 She will also be updating Athletics Wellington social media platforms – including Instagram, as well as the Athletics Wellington website.

Karin can be contacted at karin@athleticswellington.org.nz

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