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coachdaz last won the day on August 17 2012

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About coachdaz

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  • Year of first Tri race?
  1. TrinewB happy to factor it in and happy to come along to the race and help out with pre-race routine...
  2. Hi All, I have put details of a AG triathlon camp we are delighted to announce on the Tri trade forum page We've been proud to deliver the following great results to our elite team members over the past 4 yrs and offer some of this insight for the first time: Olympic medalist, 5 overall world series medalists, 3 world sprint champions in a row, 19 world series podiums, 5 more world cup podiums, 7 x IM 70.3 podiums and debute 8:18 IM athlete There will be only one opportunity in Oz this year.
  3. I am pleased to announce a triathlon training camp for determined athletes through tridynamics, coachdaz and Dsquad. It will be the only camp we run in 2013 in Australia and it will be the most interactive and educational camp offered world wide to date. Check out the details at http://www.tridynamic.co.uk/events_more.asp?eventType=1&eventID=60
  4. Hi All, A short note to explore any interest in attending a training seminar (could be anywhere) or camp (in Canberra, where D squad are based) sometime between January and April 2013. Long course wise we have 4 athletes here right now in Sedona training for Hawaii IM; 3 of whom are legitimate contenders; and most will know that I had 6 athletes racing at the London games in August two of whom are gunning for WTS overall podium positions this year. If you haven't heard of our group, we've had a little coverage elsewhere here on transitions...and I put in one or two bits and bobs on training. I've teamed up with http://www.tridynamic.co.uk to put on a few opportunities world wide over the next few years, and following our seminar weekend after the London olympics (http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2012/08/15/athletes-get-pro-treatment-from-olympic-coach-darren-smith/), I know that Martin got a bit of interest from the oceania region plus other parts of the world. The next one is actually in Kona during race week (http://www.tridynamic.co.uk/events_more.asp?eventType=1&eventID=52), so the range and options are great. This group only put in high quality, small group opportunities of the highest level, so to have the interaction level very high and that is why I am involved with them. Quality is the critical ingredient. It is not my main business, but I really love the chance to work with motivated AG athletes, and we normally make a pretty decent impact in just one or two days. Please contact: martin@tridynamic.co.uk if you have any questions or have some suggestions. kind regards as always, and hope the winter has been good for you all. I am just about all travelled out right now and cannot wait to be back home, but have Hawaii and Auckland to polish off first. Daz
  5. Ha, think I am the one you refer to who was approached but was not interested...never been approached Ken, quite the opposite I would say. Not complaining, just getting the facts right for you. best, daz
  6. Hi, few answers: Ironpo..well part of my remit was to upskill the coaches who were in charge so i did a good job on that..mixture between first time olympic coaches to very experienced guys, so we had dry runs at Hamburg where i totally handed the athletes over, and I formed a good relationship w all the federation coaches...given that I produce the athlete results and with my profile, we didn't have any issues, they were all helpful. We also had uk mobiles and our entire Dsquad team ready at a moments notice (like the swat team) if there was an issue. Cannastar-very different from normal, especially for those preselected...no rushing, took our time, and really only polished them for competition in the last phase, and that is why those like lisa/groffy etc built results rather late. The rest of the past year was building. YoYo..sorry, fact is that in kitz WTS spirig made lisa look slow and dropped her by 30 m over the last sprint phase of 200m, so to be neck and neck is actually a big deal for us. we were happy. Coach - those three boys are a class act. Thought jonnie was a bit rough, and runs technically worse than earlier in the season (core, body position), thought Gomez did fantastic to get rid of some weight which he needed to do, and of course Alistair is all class. Far out. I know their coaches well and congrats to all of them.
  7. Greetings trannies from Sedona, Arizona where we are back at work looking ahead to 70.3 worlds, des moines, further WTS races and hawaii IM. I was delighted when I logged on to see this posting. Thanks indeed, I was proud of the entire team of staff and athletes. The olympics as always were a mixed bag, and always will be when you have 6 athletes racing. From the highs of lisa and sarah delivering outstanding race performances, to the lows then subsequent pride of a high profile athlete taking down two of my athletes in a crash (suggestions of poor tyre choices and lack of specific practise were quoted) but them fighting on and running with bloody head and body parts to the line and still finishing in the top half of the field (corrected times would have had them in 7th and 8th). Finally, the dismay I had with the lack of foresight of a certain German federation who acted a little irresponsible towards one of their own (and their only medal chance by a substantial margin). With pride I can confirm that every one of the athletes had reached the big day in lifetime best shape, and all the girls had secured top 5 places at the lead up WTS races, so my job was done and time for them to take over. My worst phase of the whole 4 yrs was the few days before the race when i had handed the athletes over to their respective national coaches and I effectively was sitting in London with almost nothing to do.... I even called some of them up hoping they would need something, but all I got was 'don't stress coach, we are good, you taught us well!" Don't know what else to tell you, but if anyone has some specific questions then I would be happy to attempt to answer them, otherwise, thanks again, hope everyone is well, Daz
  8. Some suggestions for the poor kickers on the forum: 1. work on your plantarflexion..(toe pointing) - massage tibialis anterior (front of lower leg), sit on feet in front of telly etc to get more range 2. point your toes - pigeon toe like so that the big does basically touch each other as you kick 3. keep your hips up and loose (stretch if you have a tight lower back) 4. kick from your hip-soccer kick like and not your knee 5. keep the feet bubbling below the surface - kicking air does nothing other than increase drag to slow you down! and if all that fails stick two pool bouys between your legs and swim, you will be fine as long as the race is wetsuit legal.
  9. Heh again from Swtizerland. Four weeks and bit to go... I am putting a proposal together for a book I am writing so this is terrific and i am turning my original post into an example chapter, so all these questions are brilliant. lets have a crack at a few bits and pieces: Thommo- our man Fluoro was right onto it...I do a test where for a set distance and same time; we take stroke numbers of athletes (per25 or 50) in 1. pull + light kick, 2. pull +band, 3. band only, then the same with paddles added. We can work out aspect of strengths (ie as we tie up the lower half of body then we would expect some modest increase in strk numbers, but not huge, indicating good strength and good ability to adjust body postiion), and the influence of the paddles gives me a really good insight into whether athletes use their hand (ie add paddles and strks go down a lot) or entire forearm to fingers (goes down little). We then go into a tiring strength set (band only sprints) and repeat the test...the technically good and strong athletes who do extremely well in the OW hardly change, while the others struggle, use more strokes and struggle in OW more. Can you adjust your body position to account for situations...I have Bart world du champ from 2010 who floats like a brick and his head has to be deep, others don't need it, so do what you need to do to reduce drag, because that is the killer. In OW he breathes and gets back to his best body position...needs practice, and there is no set rule. Fluoro: hip to catch timing...if pressure was a guage I would go 1 out of 5 for most of it, then 2-3 at catch, then 4/5 after catch thru middle of stroke. Worst thing I see is people giving it way too much gas at the catch=slip like champs! so be very very careful with the pressure applied to the water...consider it like running on mud for those runners out there...add the gas gently and you will move forward, too much and you end up on you face or butt. Late breathing is just lazy breathing...stop waiting until the head is out of the water until you breath out! In that case both breathing out and in must be done while your head it out and you just cannot cover both in a short enough time. Instead, breath out starting when hand passes your face in the stroke on the same side as you will endeavour to breath...that way when your head is out you only need to breath in. I often say, do I walk with a pause or walk in a nice consistent rhythm? Breathing should not change the stroke rhythm. Cannastar-consider kicking like a soccer ball kick, or getting gum off your shoe...just try it. Tight hip flexors and tight lower back def do not help. often start athletes with hands on their thighs and ask them to make them move back and forwards, and then practice push off from wall deep into the pool where you can feel good pressure as opposed to trying it on the surface. Declan-we loaded up 3 swims over two days, then day off, then load again...not one per day because after 4 days it is a waste of time. Still working to get him to use his core to provide propulsion and to hold body in a streamlined position...part of the body he was very unfamiliar with! Ironic since he is a strong looking lad. Cannot remind you all enough that holding the paddle and being gentle on the water and using the body in a coordinated action is the way to get the best out of swimming....after of course correcting, body position, kicking, ... not easy I know. best Daz
  10. Glad it was of some use. The customer..spot on with your explanation to Mick; ex-hasbeen: in the pool we see the front person of a pack is actually slowed down marginally...wave drag is the issue. Up to a second per 100 is what my athletes tell me (did I say complain).. Mick (coach@triathlon)...I spoke with the Oz slalom canoe coach and former 10 time world champ yrs ago and they have the same problems with the paddle in the eddies around rocks...tricky business getting 'genuine purchase' in turbulent water. I'm pretty busy up to the big dance in London, but if Mick wants to compile a few questions and email them to me then I will do my best. I don't do much writing of my thoughts because I rarely get asked, but here are a few things that will give a bit of an insight: http://www.coachesinfo.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=82:swimming-open-water&catid=49:swimming-coaching&Itemid=86 and http://triathlon.competitor.com/2012/06/features/the-curious-case-of-darren-smith_55275. There was something else on Slowtwitch a while back also: http://www.slowtwitch.com/Interview/Picking_the_brain_of_Darren_Smith_1893.html I really am not a 'big head' and the interviewers tend to overstate things, but there is some swim stuff in there. Greetings now from Austria (Kitzbuhel WTS race).
  11. I recently got asked for an interview for a US tri mag on how I improve my athletes in the OW, and after spending a decent amount of time answering and submitting the information I was told it was not longer needed. Rather than file it away, or keep it all to myself, I figured someone out there might get something out of it. I am an Ozzie, and all the those athletes highlighted in the article are or have trained in Oz also. Best regards from the Swiss Mtns, Darren Smith General Info: How long have you been a tri coach? I coached my first international athlete in 1993, but got really serious since about 1999 What is your background (athlete, other sport, etc)? half decent triathlete (few top 10s world AG) after starting very late and not particularly from any background How would you like to be referred to in article? Most people know me as coachdaz (twitter)…my name is Darren Smith (rarely I will use the Dr, but I do have PhD) Do you have a team name or title? Again, most know us as ‘Dsquad’..we have a small team of 9 athletes, with six of our ODTri members out of 6 going to London for the Olympics, plus I coach a junior and two long course athletes who are also pretty decent. Any other pertinent personal info?..just a private coach, with a fairly low profile, good thinker with commonsense. Happily married to Liz, a great sport dietitian and I’m a very satisfied customer of life. Specific swim questions: Can you give an example of an age group (non-pro) that has come to you as a slow swimmer and you worked with them to make significant gains in their swim times? Name, age, time spent coaching, original swim time/distance, current swim time/distance. What are the main aspects that resulted in this improvement? Technique? More yardage? Open water training? Strength? A combination? Its’s been a long long time since I worked with any age grouper, but I do help out some juniors at times. Case study one is a junior male, Declan Wilson, whom we’ve improved by just over a 1.5 min over 1km in the past few months. He only learnt to swim in the past two years as a 17-18 yr old and was swimming only about 13.45-14 min for a 1km TT in late January earlier this year. By June we have him down around 12.27 min for the 1km TT (as you know 1.5 min off a 14 min/km is a bit harder than 1.5 off someone really slow)… The change was a combination of everything: Technically we changed most things..At the start, he wiggled his torso (no lateral stability to speak of), crossed over centreline on entry, kicked from the knee on one leg and didn’t kick at all with the other, pulled the water with dropped elbows, breathed late and out of alignment, and had terrible body position in the water and a really low stroke rate of 32/min. We have sorted out all of those things so now everything looks pretty neat and alignment is now good. Improvements (up to 60%) were also made in range of motion of the shoulder, especially internal rotation and abduction; and we specifically strengthened the scapular and rotator cuff muscles. Training included more mileage, initially as many shorter sessions while we adjusted the stroke, and then longer sessions to build fitness..always going back to shorter, more frequent sessions if the stroke broke down. Loading up on strength was also important and faster sprint efforts, but we always kept the mechanics good throughout. We haven’t had the chance to do too many open water sessions yet, but we did drafting practice in the pool with better athletes, having him need to deal with people in close proximity, and he has become more of a student of the sport by watching how others deal with the swim in races. Same two questions as above, regarding a pro athlete that you have coached. (any pro, doesn't have to be Barbara if you don't want to talk about her).. I am fortunate enough to have contributed positively to a number of well known pro athletes. They all had their own quirky bits that needed negotiating. Case studies will include Barbara Riveros from Chile who went from 3rd pack swimmer to back of first packer over two years which allowed her to capitalise on her biking and running ability and become a sprint world champ in 2011; and Lisa Norden, who also went from an average swimmer to now firmly entrenched in the first pack and an absolute legend of the sport in short distance drafting and non draft formats. The girls are of very different body size, with their respective body lengths being in the order of 5,10’’ and 5 foot respectively for lisa and barb…but there were similarities with their initial swimming ability and skills. Both crossed over the centreline on entry, attempted to find a catch mainly using their hand, knew little about how to really apply force to water and had no coordination of the arms with the remaining parts of their body. They were fit and well conditioned coming off programs that did good swim volume and hard training sets, but they did not swim up to the required standard to become internationally competitive. Their strokes were also far from ideal for an open water environment and I will talk about this first. Lisa, kicked from the knee well out of time with the hips, entered early and across the centreline but then pulled the water with much force at the catch (using just the hand) which was also very wide and deep. She breathed very late with an exaggerated head movement and the stroke was very short in length. Improvement in all these aspects helped tremendously, especially when we got her to think about using her whole ‘paddle’ (fingers to elbow) and to apply force in a coordinated manner involving the opposite hip, and kick in the correct timing. Because she is a very strong woman,’ pulling’ the water with so much force and using a small paddle (her hand only) was getting her nowhere especially in the open water. She ‘held’ very little water to move her forward. Barb, had been well coached to find a catch (a vertical forearm), but unfortunately the arm stopped there momentarily before applying force in concert with a violent kick on the same side (the kick being from the knee and not the hip) and the arm force applied so fast that none of the paddle (being, hand to elbow) held any water at all! The stationary vertical forearm, was a big brake to forward motion; the energy of the pull too much for her strength to hold any water, and kicking from the knee created lots of drag and turbulence and she had a hip injury from it! It was worse when she breathed, because the head would lift from the water and the breathing was very late, affecting body position and instantaneous velocity (ie. short people, not propelling themselves sink and really don’t glide well). To sort it out, we reduced her intent to find a catch and removed the pause, taught her to kick from the hip and to coordinate it with the hips and press. Finally to relearn how to apply force to the water, with much less outright ‘pull’ of the water, rather a setting the ‘paddle’ and coordinating the body to move past this paddle. For both athletes we worked hard on range, scapular control, staying healthy and swimming consistently with shorter double swims per day every second day, until they were technically good enough to handle longer and tougher fitness sets. Kinesthetic and visual feedback worked well. We coupled this with specific open water sessions, with me, the coach on a canoe next to them, giving feedback on their ability to swim straight, follow feet etc, concentrate when the going got tougher etc…in all sorts of conditions. We deemphasised what they did at the front end of the stroke, removed any gliding or dead spots and strengthened them to have an ability to use water at any point where they found it within the stroke. As most will know, swimming on feet, and in a stream of bubbles affects your ability to ‘hold’ water at the front part of the stroke, because of such low density of the water…this is in general contrast to swimming in a pool where some athletes (but not that many) will be able to feel good pressure from the water especially at the start, but potentially right through the stroke also. They went faster initially, by swimming less intensely, but with more understanding of the fluid medium and better open water ability. Then we layered fitness, and race specific skills resulting in further improvement, but there was never a point when technical ability was left to the waste heap. Strength endurance and the ability to swim quickly with band only and paddles/band pull bouy were also critical abilities we wanted to develop. In general, what do you feel most triathletes are lacking in their training that is holding them back from making huge gains in the water? Most triathletes, age group and elite have the same issues. Firstly forget fitness, it can be overrated until there is a certain amount of skill developed. Technically, triathletes create too much drag and not enough force…we have all seen the ex swimmer who is unfit but gets in the pool and swims rings around very fit ‘unskilled or non swimmers’! I will illustrate the issues and then apply some logic to help sort it out: The increased drag of non swimmers is generally from having both poor kick mechanics and not knowing how to adjust body position using the upper part of their body. It is not that difficult to kick from the hip, nor to improve plantarflexion, but most triathletes kick from the knee and have ankles locked almost at 90 degrees! The kick is not really that relevant for direct forward progress per se in most parts of the race, but I believe it critical to help the body move past the ‘paddle’ in a coordinated manner (more on this later). Once the kick is sorted the body position normally improves, but additional work (assuming the swimmer has enough thoracic/shoulder range) around the head and torso can improve the body position and reduce the drag further. Simplistically, push the torso and head (together) into the water a bit more and hey presto, better body position irrespective of everything else. Of course if you mostly race in a wetsuit, then some of these things are solved, so less emphasis can certainly be placed on the body position requirements. Out of date style coaching instruction probably is the other big issue. The open water medium is a bit special, what I find is athletes across the board enter the water too early, often crossing the centreline, glide for way too long, press wide thereafter in a ‘key hole shape’ and pull with their little shoulder muscles (akin to a lat pulldown in the gym or rowing stroke) using only their hand as a paddle. Unfortunately the swimming world was side tracked for the best part of 30 yrs after a biomechanist and swim coach named Doc Counsilmen observed that good freestyle swimmers appeared to scull their hand in a key hole shape. Every coach who read this work then went and taught swimmers to do a sculling action like this, but did not understand that most of the key hole shape is a result of normal body roll, rather than any requirement to scull laterally. The result is that everything is overdone! What is wrong will all this…in turbulent environments such as the open water, short non streamlined people really don’t glide well and both velocity and body position deteriorate very rapidly, the arm is a third order lever, so any catch less than ideal causes much duress to the muscles trying to move the arm. Now once something decent is in place, then conditioning becomes important, but this bit is certainly not rocket science. There will be a minimum level of endurance training required to become a proficient swimmer, but many will overdo the intensity of training that is required, and probably not complete enough swimming with good technique at moderate to medium paces. Strength endurance is important because the back end of the stroke is critical when following feet I believe. Then, navigating in the open water and within a high energy race environment is another stage that needs some work for many, but not all. Many people can swim straight, but most cannot, and same with being able to concentrate or sight properly to ensure they are indeed heading in the right direction. What significance (if any) do you think training in open water has for improving as a triathlete? We as triathlon coaches have our athletes training 95% or more in the pool, which to some extent rewards gliding, and is more pristine than in the open water. I work very hard not to let me athletes forget that we are not trying to optimise their pool swimming ability, but we are specifically trying to get the best out of themselves when it counts…which is during an open water race. The time we spend in the open water is precious, in the off season in Australia we are out there every single week for sessions between 1 hr and 2 hrs with up to two coaches on canoes doing specific workouts and providing feedback directly related to the demands found in racing. There are no lane ropes or black lines in a race, athletes need to get used to being hit and having to deal with it, negotiating turns and not loosing forward momentum etc and we practice it all. Once we improved her in the pool Barb Riveros used to be swimming fine at the back of a group in such OW sessions, and all of a sudden was heading left or right at almost 45 degrees for apparently no reason…there was simply a lack of concentration and if she tried too hard she either slipped her hold on the water or just went off line. Her sighting was also in pretty poor shape and this affected her body position, drag and hence speed in the open water. Everything has a knock on effect. In swimming within a race, once the gap opens up for any of the above reasons then it was likely the end of a good result in the race, so it mattered a lot to us. In your opinion, how important is swim specific strength training? Swimming, like biking is really a strength endurance sport, and therefore lots of specific strength is very important. However general strengthening or making the wrong muscles more powerful is not the answer. First, what are the weak muscles, and what are their actions in the swim stroke. I just don’t believe the ‘pulling’ muscles of the arm are the prime movers for technically good swimming…so for me, strengthening these are totally unproductive. Forget biceps curls, chest press, lat pull downs and all that sort of thing. Strengthening the muscles of the shoulder and the scapular so you can ‘hold’ the ‘paddle’ in place as the body moves past it, and strengthening the core so you can hold a streamlined torso really is useful however. You can get these adaptations by swimming and adding resistance, by gym or stretch chord work, or a combination. The bottomline however is that you are trying to apply force to a very slippery medium with not a particularly well designed ‘paddle’ (have a look at your forearm to hand) so any power gains must be matched by skills to use this extra ability.
  12. Hello everyone, I heard from a colleague that my name was mentioned in an interesting discussion on coaching etc on this forum. I don't normally involve myself because I like peace and quiet, but there are a few points I should bring up that would clarify things. I am pretty frank by nature so I hope I don't insult anyone, it is not intentional. I am not 'lost' to the ozzie system, as I currently work with two ozzie athletes, junior michael gossman who will rep OZ at the 2010 youth olympics, and dave matthews who did his first WCS race last weekend (yes, not a great outcome, but he is still on his "P" plates in terms of racing). In the past few years I also worked with Matt Hopper (06-07), Dave Dellow (08), winner of 2010 junior series Drew Viles from a 15 yr old until last year. I have also mentored a few ozzie coaches in recent times including Cath Rogers of QLD in 08-09 (QLD junior development coach), and now ACT junior coach Corey Bacon. So I do contribute where I can, and if anyone asks then I am normally quite happy to help. The system in Australia does have excellent elite coaches and a host of supporting coaches, like me, who contribute in different ways and amounts. Barbara Riveros did indeed come work with me for the past 5-6 mon based here in Canberra, and we have made some decent gains, but I would attribute most of her development to Jamie T of Wollongong. I watched Barb under his guidance and big gains were made. Equally, we as a team were absolutely delighted for our young Chicka, and she deserves what she gets because of her work ethic and commitment. Special mention also to the other athletes of my squad who have come top 10 in the last two world cups in recent weeks; Lisa, Kate, Groffy, Vicky, Vendula. They are an incredibly talented and hard working bunch. I don't think I am much better than anyone else, but success breeds success and the group also breeds an ethos of success. That is a new discussion. As for other postings I read talking about management of senior athletes: BK, Benno, Chappo, Loretta, AJ, Emma Snowsill (and a huge number more) all came out of the same factory, an incredibly successful factory, and that coach, Sutton, by observation taught me that group dynamics, commitment, reading individuals, and challenging them was much more important than the session outline or watts, or periodisation. Hard for me to get my head around at first because I have a blasted PhD in exercise physiology! I was lucky enough to watch them all in action for two periods, the first when I was the sports scientist for the team in 1997 during a 2 mo long camp and then in 2001 when I was a coach myself over in Europe and we just happened to be in the same location in Switzerland, and this later time was for about 2-3 weeks. Brad, Benno, AJ went on to work with other world class coaches, and hence had a different type of influence. Waldo had influence from two WC coaches also, with sutton being the latter influence. In the womens side, EM was guided by Shaun, another world class coach, then made further gains with waldo and training alongside Emma S who incidentally was put together by sutto also from late 2002 to 2005. In the US, the most successful coach is Siri Linley, yes you guessed it, another Sutto athlete, and I can tell you that the training program she coaches with is from her time with him (1999-2002), as I have now coached two of her former athletes, Jenna Shoemaker and Sarah Groff. (It is not hard to evaluate the strength/weaknesses of a coach, if you go on to work with their former athletes.) This is leading to the point of whether these senior athletes have the skills to now manage themselves, using a tried and tested training method...yes, but primarily because the method is so good in the first place I suspect, and once an athlete is 'put together' then it is actually very easy to take them back to that same absolute level of performance. Taking them further is the tricky bit and I very rarely (if anytime) see a self coached athlete take themself to a new level. My observation is that it takes most ex-athletes about 5-8 yrs to gather the experience to coach in a way that is more encompassing than just regurgitating what their former coach did. Now in the case of sutto trained athletes, no stress, just roll out what I call sutto-light (like coca cola light), but missing something a bit important...and it is highly effective, but don't expect them to change skills that much or make wholesale changes in difficult athletes. Some can but not many. It will end up in tears, but give those same coaches someone with good skills, good work ethos but an athlete who just needs the 'work', then whamo. After a year or two of coaching (and perhaps some head scratching) former athletes who want to pursue higher level coaching for real (rather than an extention of their athletic career or sun searching) then go in search of more methods. They often come and make a few observations to people like me, who knew them as athletes, like, "geez, I was pretty gifted wasn't I" which speaks volumes, because by and large they are now working with people who are not so gifted and it is bloody hard work making progress that they as an athlete found easy. However having ex athletes come back and help out is a good thing, and never happens nearly enough, so I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment that more ex athletes should be asked to help mentor either athletes or even coaches. They do have a lot to offer, and I can see some of this mentoring going on in the Noosa region of the sunshine coast this summer where athletes like, AJ, Benno et al do encourage others as role models and in part, advisors. I will end it there, but I hope this insight has been a little bit helpful to the discussions so far. regards Darren Smith
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