To ensure the legacy that Yvette Williams has given to sport in New Zealand continues, the NZOC will award a Yvette Williams Scholarship to an athlete or athletes that demonstrates the same qualities as Yvette displayed as an athlete - hard work and determination - to excel in their chosen sporting field. In Yvette’s honour, athletes will have the opportunity to be supported in their quest for Commonwealth or Olympic Gold for New Zealand.
The Scholarship will be awarded to an athlete (who may participate at the Games in an individual event, or as part of a team) or athletes (in a pair, crew or double) and may be used to fund equipment or ongoing training, competition and games preparation costs. Funding may be applied for on an annual or multi-year basis (at the discretion of the NZOC) leading into the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games or the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The over-riding criteria is that the Scholarship will assist the athlete or athletes to win a medal or be successful at the upcoming Commonwealth or Olympic Games; with the emphasis on the prospect of winning a medal.
In 2015 and 2016, the Yvette Williams Scholarship was awarded to Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders, the Nacra 17 pair who came 4th place in their first Olympic Games at Rio 2016. Jason and Gemma said of the scholarship:
Leading up to Rio, Gemma and I were in need of purchasing some new gear for our boat for the next stage of our testing program. For us, receiving the Yvette Williams scholarship was a big deal because we could buy the sails and equipment we needed and managed to select the best equipment for the Olympic Games. This is very important in our boat as there are big variations in the sails especially and it is important to find the best ones for our style of sailing.
We were also lucky enough to go and visit Sir Owen Glenn in London and got a great insight into who he was and to say a personal thank you. We were very honoured to have received the Yvette Williams scholarship and wish future recipients all the best with their campaigns. Jason Saunders
We were fortunate enough to receive support from the scholarship for 2015 and 2016 which allowed us to purchase the necessary equipment for racing in the regattas we competed in during our build up towards the Games. We raced knowing our sails were new and they weren't something we could use as an excuse in our minds if we didn't perform to expectations. This allowed us to totally maximise our training schedule and work on what would really make a difference to our results and not be distracted with "other" stuff. Gemma Jones
In 2017, the New Zealand Olympic Committee has awarded the Yvette Williams Scholarship to upcoming pole vaulter Nick Southgate.
Nick, who is trained by Olympic bronze Medalist Eliza McCartney’s coach Jeremy McColl, has won the national Men’s Pole Vault title four times. He qualified for the final of the Men’s pole vault at the 2015 World University Games in Gwanju, however could not compete in the final due to a calf strain.
Throughout 2016 Nick has progressively raised the bar and today his PB of 5.47 sits just 4cm shy of the New Zealand record set by Olympian Paul Gibbons in the 1990s. This impressive result was set in early 2016 at the Australian Championships and was good enough to place him second behind Australian Kurtis Marschall who placed 10th at the Rio Olympic Games. Nick is now targeting 5.70m by 2020 which, based on previous results, could be enough to see him in finals contention for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
As a senior member of the North Harbour Athletics Club, Nick can often be seen coaching young athletes and giving back to the track and field community.