Talent Transfer in Full SwingSubscribe
EIS/UK Sport 24 February 2007
Identification of sporting talent is as much about science as it is an art, which is why the EIS and UK Sport are working together to recruit athletes onto what is known as the Talent Transfer Programme - often referred to as the talent ‘swap shop’.
As an integral element of a wider programme to ‘unearth’ potential talent with the ability of podium success in London 2012, the Talent Transfer Programme aims to recruit athletes already retired, or nearing retirement, and provide them with a ‘second chance’ opportunity to switch sports and directly contribute to Team GB success in 2012.
The EIS team which comprises Natalie Dunman and Ian Yates, and headed up by Chelsea Warr of UK Sport, believe that many who have not quite made it as an athlete in their chosen sport, may have the transferrable skills - physiological, technical, physical, perceptual, motor and conceptual - to succeed in an alternative sport.
But this is based on more than just a belief – with evidence coming from recent work at the Australian Institute of Sport – and also sporting examples on our own doorstep, including Shelly Rudman’s successful transfer from 400 metres hurdles to Bob Skeleton, winning a silver medal at the Winter Olympics in 2006. Also, two of our young diving prospects who are demonstrating potential, the Galasham twins - retired from gymnastics less than a year ago.
Notwithstanding these significant achievements, to date many transfers have succeeded due to a stroke of luck and personal intrigue rather than judgement. The Talent Transfer Programme aims to change that, introducing a more proactive, systematic approach to searching out those athletes already 'primed' for podium success.
"In many respects we are able to hit the ground running with transferring athletes as their former 'host' sport will have invested heavily in their development - not just financially, but in the hours of a coaching and support that they will have received. Whatever happens to the athletes as they move on to fresh challenges, this groundwork is never lost and we have their former coaches and sports to thank for that", said Chelsea Warr.
With regards to establishing the components for success, demonstrating the physiological attributes necessary is irrelevant if they don’t have the required skill for the sport – which is why, in association with the NGB, the team are assisting with a more detailed analysis of how trainable their skills may be.
To kick-start the transfer process, over the next few days 150 athletes previously funded on the World Class Programme will receive a letter, inviting them to pursue their Olympic dream – by switching sports. This group were chosen from 1,200 who have been through the lottery funded programmes since 1997. If they get through the initial screening exercise and are identified as potential medal-winners, they will be put on fast-track programmes for their new sport.
“There are a lot of heavily disguised, potentially elite athletes out there,” Warr said, “but they just don’t know it.”