Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Top athletes test their mettle for Iron Awareness Week

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Star shearer and rugby great help showcase the benefits of iron in diet.
Beef + Lamb NZ ambassador Stacey Waaka says she eats beef and lamb to help her ‘body function well from a mental, physical and spiritual perspective’ – ‘plus, there’s nothing better than lamb chops on the barbecue.
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World champion New Zealand rugby player and Beef + Lamb NZ ambassador Stacey Waaka went up against world-record-holding sheep shearer Sacha Bond in a series of athletic tests last week at Massey University in Auckland.

The challenge, which was facilitated by BLNZ and Massey University, forms a part of World Iron Awareness Week, with the theme “Iron to Move” showcasing the important role iron can play in keeping physically active.

Senior lecturer in sport and exercise science Dr Claire Badenhorst said “both Stacey and Sacha are at the top of their game in their respective fields but obviously are quite different physically, so these athletic tests that compared their strength, endurance and agility were extremely interesting”.

Badenhorst was impressed by the athletes.

“Both women performed extremely well. The tests highlighted why they are such excellent performers in their chosen fields. 

“Iron plays a crucial role in achieving peak performance, whether it be for sport, work or just maintaining a busy lifestyle. And with stats from the last National Nutrition Survey indicating that 12% of women aged 30–51 years are low in iron, this is an area I’m passionate in raising awareness in,” she said.

“Based on observations in my work, a notable number of women are experiencing the effects of low iron levels. I also have personal experience with the consequences of iron deficiency, and at times found it difficult to maintain adequate iron levels. It can leave you feeling very tired and fatigued – making both work and exercise a real challenge.”

Waaka and Bond both follow a well-balanced diet that is rich in iron.

“I personally eat beef and lamb because I love meat. I genuinely love the taste, and enjoy cooking it when I have the time,” Waaka said.

“I eat beef and lamb to help my body function well from a mental, physical and spiritual perspective. What you put in foodwise is what you get out physically. Plus, there’s nothing better than lamb chops on the barbecue!”

Waaka said the athletic tests were definitely harder than she expected, “but my competitiveness helped push me through those tough moments!”

Bond said she found the tests fun but challenging. 

“It was a great way to see where I’m at in the lead-up to my next world record attempt. I’m really glad I ate well beforehand, as I feel this was key to my performance.

“I enjoy eating beef and lamb not only because it is delicious, but also because it gives me the nutrients I need to feel energised throughout my day.

“After a hard day on the farm, I love tucking into a slow-cooked lamb shank or a rare steak with garlic butter.”

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