Thirty-nine targeted junior athletes from regional NSW attended the first Pursu32+ ‘NSWIS Ready’ Regional Academy of Sport Program camp at Sydney Olympic Park from last Friday night to Sunday where they received insights into the expectations that would accompany them should they progress to an elite sport program or an athlete scholarship with NSW Institute of Sport.
The athletes, aged between 12-18, were nominated by either their Sport and/or a Regional Academy and were then invited to submit an Expression of Interest to join the pilot program. Selection was based on their potential to progress to elite competition and ultimately the 2032 Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Games. However, they needed to display other traits including their resilience, motivation, aptitude, commitment, while even the level of support and encouragement that’s provided to them by their family was a consideration.
While in Sydney the athletes did a battery of tests, received advice from experts on such things as nutrition, participated in group activities, and took inspiration from a panel of elite divers which included four-time Olympian and medallist Melissa Wu, Ruby Drogmuller – who relocated from Moree in northwest NSW to pursue her dreams – and master coach Chava Sobrino, who guided Matthew Mitcham to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games gold medal.
Andrew Logan, NSWIS’s Director, Coaching, Regional and Talent, said providing the athletes with inspiration by visiting the stadium that hosted the Sydney Olympics, the NSW Rugby League, and Cricket’s High Performance centres, and hearing an athlete of Wu’s calibre share her story were as vital as the physical and educational components of the weekend.“Mel Wu is a four-time Olympian and she’s pursuing her fifth Olympic Games, and on the opening night of the camp we heard Mel share her story,” said Mr Logan. “And while they watched [vision of] her achievements you could see all the young people in the room were taking it in. “Heroes inspire, and people want to be like their heroes . . . so if they dream of competing at an Olympic Games or competing at the highest level, then getting inspiration from hearing other elite athletes share their story resonates and means they know it is achievable and that they can believe in themselves.”
Mr Logan, who grew up in regional NSW, competed in cycling at the 1990 Auckland Commonwealth Games, and who has enjoyed a stellar career in high performance sport as Australia’s national cycling coach, working for the Australian Institute of Sport in various roles, being appointed the sport science manager at British Swimming, serving as the national performance director at Australian Gymnastics and having roles at seven Olympic Games, said the Pursu32+ NSWIS Ready RAS Program would help bridge the gap for remote and regional athletes.“They’re generally challenged by the distances they have to travel,” said Mr Logan of the plight of regional athletes. ““Anecdotally we know that a lot of representation on Australian teams are athletes who emerge out of regional Australia.” “Why is that? Well, we know they’re more resilient – and that’s not to say city kids aren’t resilient – because [regional athletes] have to jump in car, travel to Sydney for up to eight hours, compete, and then jump in a car and return home. “They don’t have the same opportunities [as city athletes] but when they’re provided with one, they grab it and go with it, and make the best of it. And that’s the purpose of this program: and also, to make them better people. “Bringing them into the New South Wales Institute of Sport exposes them to what the real word of elite sport is. We’ve emphasised Camp One around Inspiration, Discovery and Mapping.
“The Inspiration came through showcasing High Performance Centres of Excellence and hearing Olympians share their stories. Discovery by finding out more about the athletes who were selected to the program, and Mapping consists of how PURSU32+can add value and guide.“This this may look like sessions with an NSWIS coach or sessions with skill acquisition expert, a dietitian, preventative health provider, and an athlete wellbeing and engagement coordinator. We can help them get the advice they require. “Our expectation when an athlete comes into NSWIS is that they already have foundation knowledge and the key components are there for success; that if they come into a strength and conditioning program they have the correct techniques; they’ve been through body control, posture exercises that create the body that’s prepared for the rigors and demands for elite performance. “The Pursu32+ NSWIS Ready RAS Program will let them know the benchmarks they’re expected to meet.”
Brett O’Farrell, the Chair of NSW Regional Academies of Sport, has previously said the lessons and insights the athletes would take from such things as the camp would go a long way to building on regional NSW’s proud record at the last two Olympics.“This program will build on the athlete numbers RAS has produced for many years working with NSWIS,” said Mr O’Farrell. “Further innovation in performance support will also provide these talent pathway athletes with higher quality support, continuing our recent successes that includes 56 Australian Olympians being RAS Alumni in the past two Olympic cycles.”
Forty-three athletes were selected for the first intake of the NSWIS ‘Ready’ Pursu32+ RAS Talent Program of which 8 athletes were from the North Coast Academy of Sport attended the first camp. The athletes are:
- Bayden Smith – Hockey
- Maya McGrath – Hockey
- Eliza Berrick – Hockey
- Maia Adamson – Hockey
- Trent Alley – Athletics
- Ocea Curtis – Surfing
- Ella Ledingham – Skate
- Kira Juffermans – Basketball