Olympic champion Peter Wilson is optimistic about the future prospects of his sport following plans put in place to unearth the next generation of talent.
Seeking to build on Wilson’s London 2012 success, British Shooting has undertaken a system overhaul with a focus on more systematically identifying and developing future champions, in a bid for success at the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Wilson said: “It’s a breakthrough for British Shooting to be looking at the talent side of the sport; we’ve always had a lot of focus on the world class aspect, but nothing feeding that. This is really very exciting; it’s the start of a new era for British Shooting and British shooters.”
Allocated over £700,000 of additional funding for the Rio Cycle, British Shooting is receiving a total investment of £3.2m over four years. Having been classified a ‘Foundation Programme’ sport by UK Sport, British Shooting has subsequently been tasked with growing its talent base.
To help achieve that, Talent Pathways Manager Steven Seligmann has been recruited to help identify, recruit and develop target shooters with potential. Having previously worked with the England and Wales Cricket Board, Seligmann has introduced a new GB Academy Programme to support the next generation of Olympic medallists, with the aim of producing a consistent supply of athletes to feed the system.
The Academy will sit below the top level World Class Performance Programme (WCPP), and above the England National Programme.
Seligmann explained: “We have a great opportunity to capture the success of the 2012 Olympics and create a sustainable high performance pathway across all disciplines that strategically targets athletes with the greatest potential to be world class performers and leads to Olympic and Commonwealth success.”
One of the advocates is 2013 BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year Amber Hill, who last year became the youngest ever winner of a senior World Cup and recently joined the National Lottery funded WCPP.
The 16-year-old thinks the benefits of the new system are clear: “It’ll allow up and coming shooters to be developed and get the right amount of training and expertise to reach the top,” she said.
Hill also spoke of the added benefits she has seen since reaching the WCPP.
She said: “Having that backing and support has meant I can train more often and I’ve got support systems behind me. It also gives me the opportunity to compete internationally and get a lot of experience in a short space of time before Rio.”
As well as developing talent already within the system, later this year British Shooting will be working with UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport to undertake a talent identification campaign to uncover new potential Olympic athletes in other shooting talent pools such as the non-Olympic shooting disciplines.
With so much change afoot, Peter Wilson is extremely optimistic: “Where we stand with our athletes; we’ve never been so strong. The future is bright for British Shooting and hopefully we can build on this with medals at the Commonwealths this year and medals in Rio in two years’ time."
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