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A few tricks . . . Mitch McRae has left his role as Sport Waitaki co-ordinator to become a police officer. PHOTO: GUS PATTERSON

Mitch McRae loves a challenge.

The former top-level triathlete and basketball player is excited about his next one – training to become police officer.

Mr McRae has left his role as Sport Waitaki co-ordinator and is about to start training at the Royal New Zealand Police College.

It was a career path he had always been interested in.

“Obviously, other things got in the way, but I thought the time was right to take up a new challenge,” Mr McRae said.

“At the end of the day, sport is always going to be there.”

Mr McRae worked for Sport Waitaki for two and a-half years, after six years in similar sporting roles in Balclutha.

In Balclutha, he saw the impact the opening of the Cross Recreation Centre, an indoor sports complex, had on the South Otago town.

He hoped Oamaru could follow suit with a sports stadium of its own.

“It can be just made simple and have everything you need,” he said.

“I think it would be a huge attraction for tournaments.

“We have the accommodation and location.”

Some people in the Balclutha community had had their doubts about how much use the Cross Recreation Centre would get, but it had become a central hub for the community – and it was not just used for sport, Mr McRae said.

“People who said they were not going to use it are [now] using it.

“It doesn’t have to be just sports-related. Everyone could utilise it in some way, shape or form.”

One of his highlights while working at Sport Waitaki was organising the Network Waitaki Sports Awards.

“When you see the nominations that come through over the whole year, there is some exceptional talent there.

“For a small town, we punch above our weight.”

Mr McRae said it was a good time for a change of the guard at Sport Waitaki, as Sport New Zealand transitioned to a new four-year plan.

One of the main focuses was addressing the drop-off in activity levels of those aged 12 to 18.

He said he hoped to return to Oamaru as a police officer when he graduated.