News & Updates

3 December 2021 • High Performance

Graham Seatter is proud of his selection role

Graham Seatter

Recently departed Athletics NZ Convenor of Selectors Graham Seatter looks with fondness on his nine years in the role.

Taking up the position in 2012, the former international race walker oversaw selection for the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and Gold Coast, respectively, plus a range of World Championship events.

 “I really enjoyed my time as convenor of selectors as it allowed me to keep in contact with a sport that has been a big part of my life,” he says. “There were a lot of challenges. There are some passionate people within the sport who hold strong views and if they don’t get the desired outcome my judgement could be questioned. But by in large we had very few controversies in my time.”

Graham admits he inherited a selection approach which had worked well for the London 2012 Olympic Games and he chose not to make too many changes in approach for the Rio Olympics.

He admits the selection philosophy laid down for the Olympic Games and World Championships that the athletes must be capable of a top 16 finish did brings into play an element of judgement and he adds: “In some respects a third of people would overperform, a third of athletes would perform to the criteria and the remaining third would not perform to criteria. Yet I always believed we achieved some good outcomes which made the next set of selections easier. I was not an expert in every event, I’ve never been a thrower, for example. But I tried to be fair to everyone by applying the criteria consistently and communicating a clear message.”

Graham wishes the recently appointed Convenor of Selectors – Stephen Brown – well in the role in what is likely to prove busy ahead of the forthcoming World Championships in Eugene, Oregon and Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

However, Graham looks back with pride on his time as convenor of selectors.

“What was really pleasing was the way the panel worked really well together. Tony Rogers and Sarah Cowley-Ross made a really good contribution and Scott Goodman also made a huge contribution and has been a major factor in the success of the sport over the last few years.”

Graham started race walking in Christchurch at the age of 13. He later won three successive national 5000m track race walking titles from 1978-80 and represented New Zealand at the 1978 Commonwealth Games (placing seventh in the 30km race walk) and the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, placing ninth in the 30km race walk.

He also enjoyed an outstanding coaching career, having coached athletes than won more than 100 national titles. Among them included Commonwealth medallists Craig Barrett, Scott Nelson and Tony Sargisson as well as Murray Day.

Graham was also team manager on three New Zealand teams at race walking World Cups and as the distance coach at the 1995 World Championships, 1996 Olympic Games and 1998 Commonwealth Games. A former CEO at NZ Football he also worked as Chief Executive at the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre until his retirement last July. Graham, 66, now lives in Wanaka on the South Island.