The importance of learning how to fully prepare for a Major Championship was the key theme for the Talent Day as the Isle of Man Sporting Excellence Programme began its second year on Sunday.
More than 90 local sports performers and coaches received advice on Sports Nutrition, Anti-Doping and Media Training during the event at the National Sports Centre, Douglas.
Among the performers attending were Lara Ward, who won Gold at the recent Commonwealth Shooting Federation Championships including the European Division, and Tim Kneale, who recently competed at the World Shooting Championships in Peru. Young golfer Ana Dawson was attending her first session after training with the new England U16 squad the previous day in Manchester.
Double Olympic Champion Dame Kelly Holmes, Paralympic great Ian Sharpe, leading coach Ian Harrop and Juliet Holt, President of the Isle of Man Commonwealth Games Association, all contributed to a session focusing on detailed preparations for major events. With many of the attendees aiming for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, it provided a timely insight into preparing effectively for a Major Championship.
The topics explored included the unique atmosphere and environment at top international events, diet and meal planning and packing hand luggage to cope with unforeseen circumstances.
Lara Ward, the athlete representative on the Isle of Man Commonwealth Games committee, said: “The advice and inspiration that I have gained from the programme already is priceless, the launch of year two was another great day!”
“The Sport Psychology workshop was really beneficial, I loved the idea of the inner Chimp and I will be researching the book by Dr Steve Peters.”
Launched in 2012 to inspire and prepare a new generation of sporting champions, the programme, supported by leading Island businesses Creechurch Capital, Microgaming and SMP Partners, is being delivered by Kelly Holmes Education. In addition to elements of physical training, the programme, which also involves Isle of Man Sport, the Isle of Man Coaches Association and the Isle of Man CGA, offers expert knowledge to address the emotional, physiological, psychological and social aspects of being a top sports performer.
The first training day of the second year of the programme included a session on mental preparation from leading Sports Psychologist Chris Gooder, media workshops led by respected Sports Journalists and tutors Sybil Ruscoe and Tom Knight, and a session for athletes hosted by double Olympic medallist Bryan Steel.
Attendees were also given an insight into anti-doping testing and regulations by expert Granville Bennett and the team from UK Anti-Doping.
Swimmer and cyclist Ian Sharpe, a 10-times medal winner at the Paralympics and multiple World Champion, believes the Sporting Excellence Programme is invaluable.
The Manx elite athlete said: “If this had been around when I started my career, it would have really helped. It took 30 years to learn what these guys can learn at these sessions, benefitting from the experiences of people who have been there and done it.”
“They are being given the tools, skills and information they need to maximise their performance and realise their potential. I would say the sooner in your career you get this information, the better.”
He added: “I was delighted to be invited. I have always tried to keep a low media profile, but I understand I have a responsibility as one of our senior Paralympians to talk about the sports and my experiences. This is a great opportunity to get that message across and share what I have learned with my home Island. I am very proud to be here and able to impart that knowledge.”
Isle of Man Minister for Community, Culture and Leisure Graham Cregeen, who spent the day observing the training, said the results of the first year of the programme were witnessed during the Island Games, held in Bermuda in July. Team Isle of Man, which included many performers and coaches who had attended Sporting Excellence Programme session, topped the medal table.
Mr Cregeen said: “I think the athletes and coaches get a huge amount out of this programme, gaining experience and understanding from people who have performed and worked at the highest level in sport.”
“When you see the results we achieved at the Island Games, I think it is clear this has been a big part of that. Without support from sponsors, these sorts of programmes would not get moving. The companies involved have a put a lot into this and should be really proud of the results at the Island Games. I think it was that input into this programme which helped our athletes to get to that level and achieve their potential.”
The next Talent Day is scheduled for January 18, 2014, at the NSC.