News & Updates

28 April 2020 • General

Athletes in Recreation

Over the past month or so New Zealand has experienced an unprecedented lockdown because of the Covid-19 global pandemic. We chat to half-a-dozen athletes to see how they have been spending their downtime during this period.


Nicole Bradley

Yoga, learning the Maori language and watching make-up tutorials online have all been on the agenda for hammer thrower Nicole Bradley during her downtime in recent weeks.

The five-time senior women’s hammer champion enjoyed a successful 2020 campaign, hurling the hammer to a new lifetime best of 67.11m in Hamilton in January.

However, currently nursing a shoulder injury, the North Harbour Bays athlete is combining three days a week working as a radiographer with longer bouts of downtime in her bubble in the Auckland suburb of West Harbour.

“I’m appreciating the break and I’m doing more yoga than I normally would,” she explains. “It is nice to stretch and do more mindfulness. I’m also writing down every day what I’m grateful for – and in these difficult times I’m very grateful to have a job and be healthy.”

Her boyfriend, who is one of five other people currently in the same bubble as Nicole, has introduced Nicole to the TV show Super Naturals on Amazon Prime and she also hopes to spend more time learning more about the Maori language.

Yet among her more slightly leftfield recreational options she has been taking to watching make-up tutorials on YouTube.

“For me, I wouldn’t typically spend half an hour watching people put on make-up but I’ve found it fascinating,” she says. “I can’t believe how much time people spend doing this. I guess the great thing about lockdown is finding the time to do things we normally wouldn’t have time for.”


William Stedman

Recording music for his local church has been one of the activities two-time 2016 Paralympic medallist William Stedman has pursued during his time in lockdown.

Living with his parents, brother and sister in Christchurch, William’s father, Phil, is a pastor of Riccarton Community Church and the Para sprinter has been working on their music delivery during online Sunday services.

“I’ve been keen on music for a long time,” he explains. “I’ve played the guitar since the age of nine – and I also play piano and bass. At the moment I’m mainly recording my brother and sister singing while also putting some tracks down. We record the tracks through an interface and play as part of the live service stream on a Sunday.”

An engineering student at the University of Canterbury he has also devoted time to his studying and is trying to improve his French language skills.

Meanwhile, the 2019 World Para Athletics T36 400m bronze medallist has also spent a lot of time cleaning and tidying his room “chucking out a lot of rubbish and recycling lots of paper” and developing his skills with the table tennis bat.

“My dad, brother and I are having some quite competitive games of table tennis,” he explains. “It is good fun at home.”


Jaidyn Busch

Rising shot put star and World U20 Championships qualifier Jaidyn Busch is not one to let the grass grow under her feet.

Having reverted from her flat in central Christchurch to the family dairy support farm near Ashburton during lockdown, the New Zealand U20 shot put gold medallist is adopting a positive mindset and learning new skills.

“My dad is a joiner, he’s very clever at his job and he’s been teaching me to build some new things,” she explains. “He’s taught me to make dinner trays, some drawers for my room and a shelf.”

Besides improving her woodwork skills, the 18-year-old, who is studying a Bachelor in Teaching and Early Childhood at New Zealand Tertiary College has also drawn on the expertise of her nan to start sewing.

Jaidyn’s nan lives in a separate house on the family farm and while sensibly sticking to social distancing advice, Jaidyn has picked up a few tips.

“I stand a few metres back from the glass door and communicate with her that way,” she says. “I have a bench set up outside with a sewing machine on it. “I’ve never done sewing before but I’m learning the basics like straight stitching.”

Jaidyn has been maintaining her fitness levels with 2-3km runs and throwing on her homemade circle on the family farm – both of which has “helped my mental health and made me feel good.”

Meanwhile she has continued to keep busy by helping her dad and step mum knock down a large shed.

“It was a lot of fun,” she says. “Inside the shed were lots of things like old photos and old clothes from when I was a little girl, it was quite nostalgic.”


Ben Langton-Burnell

As an accountant, New Zealand Commonwealth Games javelin representative with his own photography business, Ben Langton-Burnell has always lived life to the full.

And in lockdown on the family farm near Foxton in the Manawatu he has continued this philosophy by devoting time to learning more skills as well as embarking on marathon wood chopping sessions for firewood.

The three-time senior national men’s javelin champion withdrew from last month’s 2020 New Zealand Track & Field Championships in Christchurch with an adductor injury. Based in Perth, Western Australia for a period, he opted to head home during the level four lockdown.

Spending 14 days in self-isolation, during which the 27-year-old re-watched the entire series of Game of Thrones – he has since made the most of his downtime.

“I have a photography business, so I’ve tried to upskill by learning videography,” he says. “I have a Gimbal, so I’ve been trying to learn how to use it for weddings and commercial videos.”

Life on the family beef farm is also always busy. Ben’s father has chopped down 800 trees and the javelin thrower is currently helping hack the trees into firewood.

“It is good conditioning, although you definitely get a bit of a sore back from doing it, he adds with a smile. “If I have only one training session in the day, I might chop firewood for seven to eight hours a day. When you are finished, it feels like you have accomplished a lot.”


Helena Dinnissen

As a busy mum-of-three with her own jewellery making business, leading masters athlete Helena Dinnissen rarely has the chance to catch her breath.

But during the lockdown the 35-year-old multi-eventer has spent some of her downtime creating videos with her children – which have attracted thousands of views on social media.

“Like many athletes I’m a very A-type personality and I struggle to do something with no point,” explains Christchurch-based Helena. “I’ve found making the videos a great way to engage with my kids in a way that is both fun for them and fun for me too.”

Among the videos Helena has been making with her three children – Kees, 10, Imri, seven and Evelyn, four have been – fitness challenges, creative challenges and building challenges.

Everything from fitness bingo, making eggs out of jelly for Easter crafts, to mini hurdles out of cans have been on the agenda for the Dinnissen family and Helena is delighted to have played a small part in helping others.

“Thousands of families sometimes struggle to think, what am I going to do with the kids? So to be able to share what we have been doing on Facebook is very rewarding. One of our challenges had 30,000 views.

“It has been great to see how my kids have enjoyed being in the videos and it is funny, if there is something wrong, they want to do the video again and hold us (the adults) accountable.”


Katherine Camp

Whether it is working hard on improving her language skills to honing her quiz ability, New Zealand women’s 800m champion Katherine Camp has been sucking the positives of being in lockdown.

Based in Christchurch with her partner, Katherine has gradually returned to training having initially taken a week off – and last week conducted her first session – 200m reps on a grass strip in Hagley Park.

The 27-year-old’s first week in lockdown was spent extensively in the kitchen baking – where everything from self-sauced fudge pudding to scones were on the menu.

“I did quite a bit of baking, but I got a bit sick of my own baking because it was not that great,” she admits. “It was a bit of a sugar overload for me, so I cut that out.”

Virtual quizzes have also become a regular part of her social life. Whether this is with family or friends “almost every other night” Katherine has delved into her trivia knowledge.

“I’m not that good at quizzes but it is a great way for everyone to come together and stay connected with others,” she adds.

She has also been using the downtime to improve her German. A language she studied at high school and university and she has also continued to coach a group of high school athletes from Canterbury. She has fully embraced the role and has kept in contact via a WhatsApp group to ensure the athletes maintain not only fitness but that they are keeping well in these challenging times.

“I’ve helped out for the last two years with the Rangi Ruru Girls’ School athletes,” she says. “I’ve enjoyed coaching athletes in that age group and seeing their progress. It has been very rewarding.”