Team GB London 2012 selections this week have included two more athletes identified by talent ID programmes run by the UK Talent Team (UK Sport and the EIS). Richard Jefferies and Angela Hannah were today selected to the GB sprint canoeing team, to take part in the Men’s C1 1000m and 200m and Women’s K4 500m, respectively.
Richard Jefferies first set foot in a canoe in 2007, when he applied to take part in the Sporting Giants talent ID scheme. Launched by five-time Olympic rowing champion Sir Steve Redgrave in 2007, the campaign sought tall and talented athletes with the potential to compete at the 2012 Olympic Games, initially in the sports of rowing, handball and volleyball. Richard, who applied for Sporting Giants alongside his twin brother, didn’t quite fit the profile for rowing but was instead directed towards sprint canoeing.
Richard, who gave up a space at Loughborough University to pursue canoeing, said: “Four years ago representing Team GB was one of those dreams along with being a rock star and dating a super model. Now thanks to UK Sport and GB Canoeing one of those dreams is now reality and I can’t thank them enough for helping to make it a dream come true.”
Former hockey and tennis player Angela Hannah was new to the sport when she was spotted at the British Indoor Rowing Championships representing Loughborough University and selected for a women’s sprint kayaking fast track programme run by GB Canoeing alongside the UK Talent Team.
Angela said: “The last few weeks of selection have been a real whirlwind. I am really excited to be selected but still struggling to believe it! I am looking forward to working with the rest of our crew to produce our best possible performance at the Games.”
The UK Talent Team has supported GB Canoeing in the area of talent identification, confirmation and development since 2007, working in partnership to run both a women’s fast track kayak programme and a men’s fast track canoe programmes. Athletes have been recruited based on international and domestic talent gap analysis, identifying opportunities at the international level to provide an injection of talent into the GB Canoeing world class development programme.
Mark Hoile, GB Canoeing National Talent Coach, said: “The Olympic selection of Angela and Richard shows that with the right talent and hard work, you can produce athletes capable of international success in timeframes shorter than the accepted norm.
"As one of the coaches involved in their initial selection and early development it is satisfying to see both athletes begin to realise the potential we saw in them. They are part way on their Olympic journey and now it’s time for them to deliver their best Olympic performance.”
Chelsea Warr, Head of Athlete Development at UK Sport, said: “To pursue excellence to the highest level takes an enormous amount of courage, commitment and tenacity. The harsh reality is that very few ever make it but those that do leave us in awe of what is possible when you ruthlessly pursue a goal.
“Angela and Richard’s selection to Team GB is remarkable and living proof that mature-age talent identification techniques can add value to traditional athlete recruitment methods.
“We are extremely proud of Angela and Richard’s achievements and would like to congratulate Mark Hoile and Alex Nikonorov, their founding coaches, who have worked in partnership with us to inspire them towards their London 2012 goal; now a reality for them both.”
Natalie Dunman, Lead Talent Scientist at the English Institute of Sport, said: “We began working with GB Canoeing in 2007, supporting them in the area of Talent ID and Development to ensure the net was cast as far and wide as possible to identify and develop the best possible talent for 2012 and beyond.
“Transferring athletes in from other sports and developing them in relatively short time frames is a massive challenge involving a fine balance of scientific intelligence and coaching art, but one that the athletes, coaches and support staff were eager to take on.
“It’s great to see Angela and Richard progressing so quickly; their Olympic selection is testament to the athletes’ hard work and the specialist development programmes and coaching put in place to support them.”
For more information on Richard Jefferies visit his profile
For more information on Angela Hannah visit her profile
These selections add to the two Sporting Giants already selected to Team GB in the sport of Rowing, Helen Glover and Victoria Thornley.