Almost a year on from its launch, 34 athletes who applied to Talent 2012: Paralympic Potential, a campaign run by the UK Talent Team in partnership with ParalympicsGB to find sportsmen and women with the potential to become Paralympic champions in 2012, could be on track to do just that.
Now integrated across eleven Paralympic sports the athletes, who were whittled down from some 350 applicants, are making promising progress and already achieving some significant results at an international level.
Nik Diaper, Senior Talent ID Scientist for Paralympic Sport at the English Institute of Sport (EIS), explains: “Our investigations suggested that there were opportunities to target medals in 2012 if we found the right individuals, with the right profiles and put them in the right systems.
“We worked with a number of targeted sports, particularly those where we felt 2012 success could be achieved in what is a relatively short period of time.”
Launched in December last year, the UK Talent Team (a collaboration between UK Sport and the EIS) and ParalympicsGB, worked with targeted Paralympic sports to filter the applicants with the aim of finding those with the potential profile to win Paralympic medals. These individuals were then invited to undertake a series of talent assessment stages designed to investigate their 2012 potential, before being placed into formal talent confirmation programmes.
“There’s still a difficult journey ahead with many challenges to face but we’ve already seen some promising results, including selection for World Championships, National and International medals and even a World Record. This all suggests we’re heading in the right direction.” Diaper says.
One of the 34 athletes to be making progress is 24 year old Kate Jones, who is representing Great Britain in the mixed adaptive coxed four at the Rowing World Championships in New Zealand this week.
But with a little under two years to go before the games, do these athletes really have a chance of winning medals in 2012?
“These individuals have confirmed to us that they are talented, not just in the physical sense but mentally as well," says Diaper.
"Some of them have what it takes to achieve success in 2012 and also beyond but time is critical and there’s still work to be done. We now have new athletes locked into the Paralympicsystem who we were unaware of a year ago. It’s really exciting and great for British Paralympic sport.
“Our role now is to ensure the athletes we’ve found are being supported and making progress, whilst I believe it’s equally important that we look towards the longer term, to 2016 and beyond.
“London 2012 provides us with a unique opportunity to build on our previous Paralympic successes and launch British Paralympic Sport to the top of the world.”