Australia tries new talent ID plan
© 2009 Michael Steele/Getty Images
Top level sport, in any sport, reveals the
prevalence of a dominant physique.
Rowing is no exception with the long-limbed populace being the most common
in the sport. Ever since East Germany used
talent identification to pick young athletes
by their physiology and steer them
towards the selected sport, an interest
worldwide has developed in sporting
Australia’s junior women’s
quadruple sculls won silver
at the 2009 World Rowing
Championships in Brive-la-Gaillarde, France.
Professor Andy Jones from Great Britain’s University
of Exeter School of Sport and Health Sciences
stated in an article in The Times, “In the Olympic
finals, the importance of body type is quite obvious.
The build of a marathon runner, for instance, is very
different from that of a hammer thrower or hockey
player.” Jones’ conclusion, like others in his field, is
that nature is more important than nurture when
picking the right sport.
Various countries use the physical measurements
of young people of high school age, or younger,
to encourage them to follow a sport relevant to
their body type. Great Britain set up a programme
“Talent 2016: Tall and Talented” aimed at identifying
Olympic gold medallists for the 2016 Olympic
Games. One of the initial requirements is for males
to be at least 190cm tall and for females to be at
least 180cm tall. Across the other side of the world,
Australia has been working away on their elite
sporting prowess for a couple of decades.
Australia became one of the first countries to
use information from the East German talent
identification programme with the Australian
Institute of Sport (AIS) being established in 1981.
The impetus behind the AIS was for Australia to
follow some European models and establish a
more professional approach to elite sport. Rowing
was added to the institute in 1984.
Behind Australia’s recent initiatives in talent
identification is former performance development
manager for British Rowing, Peter Shakespeare.
Earlier this year Shakespeare returned, after six
years in the UK, to the AIS as the National Rowing
Centre of Excellence Elite Development Manager.
Focusing on junior and under-23 rowers,
Shakespeare implemented a whole new approach
for selection of the 2009 Australian junior team
and talent identification. The approach keeps >