Staff Profiles

Carmel Leslie – Programme Manager

Carmel started with the Otago Academy of Sport in January of 2019. She took over from Micheal Coutts who left to join the police force. She has worked in sport in many different capacities over her working life, from sport development, coaching, running a sports, athlete/coach mentoring and being a gymnastics coach at a regional and national level. She had some time out of sport working as a stunt woman on Xena and Hercules and other short films before heading overseas with her husband who was a professional rugby player. Carmel comes from a high performance background herself as a former NZ gymnast, competing at many international events through her elite years including 2x World Games, Commonwealth Games and Pacific Alliance competitions. She studied P.E and Physiology at University and has spent a huge part of her life working in sport administration, coaching and sports science. She has been involved with the Dunedin Gymnastic Academy for over seventeen years where she coached all ages and stages but of recent times coached our senior and international gymnasts.  She has coached the Otago gymnastics team for over 10 years and more recently a NZ team who toured Hawaii in January 2019. She was appointed as the NZ Gymnastics Manager for the Pac Rim and Oceania Games in 2020, however this was unfortunately cancelled due to Covid-19. These roles have all been a great honour for Carmel and she values the experiences in both sports administration, coaching and club development and believes this experience is useful in the role as Programme Manager at OAS.

“I’m really enjoying this role and I get a lot of satisfaction out of working with Otago’s talented athletes, their parents and coaches. Providing performance services and support to athletes in all our academy programmes is very rewarding. Every day is different in this job and there is a lot to do to secure funding, process accounts, coordinate workshops and consults for the athletes and coaches, liaise with regional sporting bodies, providers of our services and HPSNZ. Covid has certainly made working in the area of sport more difficult with again our workshops going on line and the impact of the disruption in the sporting calendars has been hard on our athletes. A big focus of mine has been to focus on the athletes mental and emotional wellbeing and I am always here to support them when needed.



Providers Profiles

Craig Turner – Mental Skills Coach / OAS administrative support

Craig’s role at the Otago Academy of Sport is split into two key areas. Firstly Craig is one of the Academy’s mental skills and performance coaches. In this role he works with the athletes one on one to develop their knowledge around mental skills, and tailors a mental skills program to each of the athletes needs . His second role within the Academy is to assist Carmel with running the academy program as well as operating the social media platforms to highlight the success of the athletes. He studied a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Sport and Exercise science at the University of Otago and continued his post graduate education in Sport Psychology at Otago University with a Masters of Sport Development and Management. He has since set up his own Mental skills consulting business – Diamond Mindset.

Matthew Blair – Strength and Conditioning

Matt’s role with the Otago Academy of Sport is the lead strength and conditioning coach. He works directly with the athletes in the gym to develop their movement competency and performance parameters to prepare them for the demands of the sport. Matt is a very experienced S+C coach both researching and working for many sporting teams, while currently running the Post Graduate Strength and Conditioning program at the Otago Polytechnic. Matt is also the Director of Thyme for Change NZ Ltd (1991 – current) where his work has ranged from personal training at a community level to strength and conditioning (S n C) in high-performance environments.

Nat Fraser – Mental Skills / Athlete Life 

Nat is a mental skills coach and athlete life advisor who is currently working with the Otago Academy athletes and High Performance Sport New Zealand athletes including Erika Fairweather, Holly Robinson and Anna Grimaldi. She has also previously worked with the Highlanders rugby team as a mental skills advisor and the Otago Volts for 8 seasons and the Otago BEKO (now known as the NNL) development squad. She is also currently working in the corporate sector as is the People and Performance Manager for Cook Brothers. She studied a Bachelor of Science in Psychology at the University of Canterbury and continued her post graduate education in Sport Psychology at Otago University. Nat has also been involved with the Elite Motorsport Academy since 2012. She has a wonderful rapport with her athletes she works with and has played a huge role in their successes over the years, helping them navigate their sporting journey whilst keeping them grounded and realistic about their goals, and supporting them as people first and foremost. Nat loves her dogs, cycling and was a NZ representative in fencing.

Fiona Simpson – Sports Nutrition

Fi has spent the past 20 years working as a sports dietitian and performance nutritionist and anthropometrist. She has worked with a broad range of sports from novice to high performance including snow sports, netball, basketball, athletics, swimming and cycling. She has spent seven seasons as performance nutritionist for the Highlanders rugby team and now works with the Japanese National Rugby team, the Brave Blossoms as lead nutrition provider. She is a professional practice fellow at the University of Otago, supervising master’s students working with athletes and teams. Fiona has been with the elite motorsport academy programme since its inception in 2004. Before arriving in Dunedin to pursue tertiary study, Fiona represented New Zealand in athletics. She enjoys giving athletes the tools to become more intentional about fuelling for their sport and raising awareness of the importance of nutrition in the high-performance arena. The athlete’s love Fi’s passion for food and her infamous cooking workshops which are extremely valuable for our athletes making their way in the world on their own, moving out of home and into independent living. Fi is always willing to support our athletes and gives them the best possible information and practical advice about supporting their bodies with food, even if they are on a budget. Her recipes are delicious and nutritious and she is always conscious of the athletes situations and financial constraints. She has also been known to visit the halls of residence to chat with the head chefs, committed to the cause and helping Otago athletes to be their best.

Steve Brocklebank – Chairman of the OAS Board and Financial Skills Provider

Steve is the chair business advisor at BB&S (Accountants) in Dunedin. Chairman of 4 Trades Apprenticeship Trust and the St Clair Golf Club Board of Management. He is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand, a Life Member of the Otago Chamber of Commerce Incorporated, a member of the NZ Institute of Directors and the NZ Trustees Association. He has also held positions on several boards of sporting organisations in Dunedin. In earlier days he played rugby for Southern and Otago and senior cricket for Albion CC. Now its golf, mountain biking and fishing for fitness and to get into the outdoors. Steve does a tremendous amount of work on the OAS board supporting Carmel in her role but helping to balance the books and to look at ways of delivering our service under increasing financial pressure regarding funding and the recent Covid situation. Steve helped out this year running a financial skills workshop which the athletes found incredibly helpful. 

Helen Littleworth – Physiotherapist & OAS Board Member

A 2005 appointment, Helen is a director and senior physiotherapist of a Dunedin-based sport and manipulative physiotherapy clinic. She has worked with a wide range of sporting codes and teams, including the 1998, 2002 Women’s Rugby World Cup-winning Black Ferns, Paralympic athletics team in 2014-16 and the 2007-2012 Athletics team to World Championships. Helen has been team physiotherapist at Beijing and London Olympics, 2016 Rio Paralympics, various Commonwealth Games and World Championship events. Helen is presently the physiotherapist for the White Ferns cricket team. A former Black Ferns captain, Helen was also a New Zealand hockey representative. Helen is involved in working with the elite motorsport academy athletes and will assist and support any of our athletes where needed.

Other Providers

OAS is fortunate to have the services of some incredible people based here in Dunedin working in different professions and for different organisations. Where there is a need, we contract these special people to work with our athletes. We also have a strong link to the
School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences and the Otago Polytech. We really value the expertise, research work and support and willingness we get from people involved in these organisations and we are so grateful for this. Long may our relationship continue.