Britain’s most decorated Olympian Sir Chris Hoy today helped to launch a talent identification campaign for 15 to 21-year-olds titled #DiscoverYourPower.
Revealed on the opening day of the International Cycling Union (UCI) Track Cycling World Championships, the initiative, a partnership between UK Sport, the English Institute of Sport (EIS) and British Cycling, is aimed at targeting powerful male and females.
Two testing phases are scheduled to begin in July, with the assessments aimed at discovering young people who have raw speed or power, which could enable them to be fast-tracked into high performance sport.
British Cycling are aiming to identify and convert the successful candidates into young potential sprint cyclists through their world-class performance programme, with the athletes benefiting from science, medicine and technology to help them reach their sporting potential.
Sir Chris, winner of six Olympic gold medals during his career, believes that physiology of the individual is crucial to finding a sport that suits them.
He achieved success in cycling after competing in rugby and rowing at a young age.
“For me from an early age it was very clear that I was a sprint athlete as I had more fast twitch muscle fibres and there is nothing you can do about that, it is just the way you are born,” he said.
“There are very simple ways of determining that, such as vertical jump tests or short sprints.
“No matter how hard I tried, mountain biking and road racing I could get around, but it wouldn’t have been something I would excel at.
“Whereas when I got on the track, this is closer to the short bursts of speed.”
Katy Marchant, part of the women’s team sprint squad for the UCI World Championships, has been one of the athletes to switch sports.
She joined British Cycling having previously competed in heptathlon.
UK Sport have claimed that since 2007 a total of 12 national athlete recruitment campaigns have taken place.
More than 9,000 athletes have assessed in 22 Olympic and Paralympic sports.
Over 100 athletes have been claimed to have entered the world-class perfromance system, with 250 international medals won.
The most successful graduate has been Lizzie Yarnold, who moved from athletics to skeleton and won an Olympic gold medal at Sochi 2014.
Ian Yates, British Cycling performance pathway manager, believes the initiative is key to supplementing their existing performance pathway.
“In sprint it was always going to be about increasing the talent pool we are able to find athletes from,” he said.
“We have had success with talent transfer before and for us this was a really good opportunity to build on and make it part of our pathway itself, not just a separate project.
“We are looking to build on the successful examples that we have had, which have probably happened by accident, through informal corridor conversations [between coaches].
“It was important that we made it a part of our rider route and something that we review going forwards.”
While the tests will focus on the power and speed, there will also be behavioural testing to gain an assessment of an athlete’s attitude towards training and competing at the highest level.
Sir Chris believes the attitude of the riders will prove just as valuable as their young athletes raw abilities when joining the high performance system.
“Although we are looking for sprint athletes it is an endurance test, it is not just a couple of months of focus it could be a year, two years, it could be 10-years of your life or more,” he said.
“To think there could be a number of young individuals out there who read about this and want give it a go, they could be future Olympic champions in four or eight years’ time.
“Attitude is the biggest thing I have seen in champions across all sport, it is the work they put in behind closed doors.
“I am a big believer that talent is an overrated word, it implies you can just turn up, whereas for me it is all about the work you do to get there.”
For further information about the programme, click here.
- By Michael Pavitt at the Lee Valley Velopark in London
- Republished with permission insidethegames.biz