15 December 2010
The first phase of assessments in the “Talent 2016: Future Throws Star Initiative” - which aims to find athletes capable of reaching a world class level in the heavy throws disciplines by the 2016 Olympics in Rio - is now complete following a two-day programme on 4-5 December in Loughborough.
UKA and the UK Talent Team (a collaboration between UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport (EIS)), in an initiative backed by former Olympic Heptathlon Champion Denise Lewis, invited athletes to UKA’s National Performance Centre to undergo a series of physical and physiological assessments in a competitive environment, whilst being analysed on their ability to develop specific movement patterns suited to throws events.
“It went well considering how bad the weather was,” said UKA’s National Event Lead: Heavy Throws, Shaun Pickering, following a weekend of sub-zero temperatures and travel chaos. “We probably had around 40 guys and 35 girls over the course of the two days and we really put them through their paces. They came from various different sporting backgrounds such as basketball, rowing and so on, but it worked well; we got an interesting mix.”
The UK Talent Team had considered findings from previous talent initiatives such as Sporting Giants, Girls4Gold, Pitch2Podium and Tall and Talented to set the following criteria:
Women: Under 22 years old, taller than 180cm and weigh more than 70kg
Men: Under 21 years old, taller than 186cm and weigh more than 96kg
“This was an exciting opportunity to look for new talent in the Heavy Throws events,” continued Pickering.
“We’ve seen a lot of great potential throwers lost to sports such as rugby and netball over recent years, and this Talent ID programme, working together with UK Sport and the EIS to identify Future Throws Stars from among their 'Pitch to Podium' or 'Tall and Talented' schemes, is aiming to bring some of that talent back to athletics.
“We’re now looking forward to a second round with the best athletes from the weekend – that’ll take place on 19/20 February. We’re probably looking at inviting 10 guys and 10 girls and we’ll be finalising the selection before Christmas. We shall also be holding a make-up session on the Friday preceding this for those who were unable to attend the initial phase one due to the weather – so numbers may yet increase.
“Not everyone had done the test activities before and for others it was physically tough because they were quite young – for a young guy of 16 doing an overhead throw with a senior weight shot putt, that’s tough. Rather than just looking at distances in some instances we were looking at their movement and how they took on board advice. We’re now trawling through data along with some of the other coaches and athletes we had there so see how it compares to what we saw and who we selected from our initial visual appraisals.”
Nik Diaper from the UK Talent Team said: “It’s great to be supporting UKA on this particular project. We’ve had some significant recent success from previous talent projects with other sports and we hope that the same can happen for the heavy throws disciplines. The Phase one assessment was successful as it has highlighted those individuals that we want to further assess in more detail, but it’s still early in the process and there are no guarantees. Our focus now is to support UKA in determining who has genuine potential to become a world class thrower and we’re really looking forward to the phase two assessments in February.”
Athletes who have been successful in progressing into the second round will be contacted shortly by the UK Talent Team and sent invitations to return in February.