Last weekend over 250 athletes came together at both Loughborough and Birmingham universities for the Youth Talent Programme new cohort training camp! The weekend consisted of lots of training with the national event group coaches as well as interactive workshops including learning all about UK Anti-Doping.
But what makes the programme so special, and how has it been developed to make it better than ever this year? Here’s Youth Talent Programme Manager, Alan Richardson to tell you why:
Supporting parents and personal coaches
The main purpose of the talent pathway is to identify high-performing athletes with huge potential within our sport, however that doesn’t mean that the parents and personal coaches are left behind.
Personal coaches are welcome at each training weekend throughout the year. Learnings from the national coaching team are not isolated to the selected athletes; they can be taken and shared back with their squads back at their home club.
We spoke to Richard Harris who is both a parent and personal coach from Rotherham Harriers.
"We are really proud of our athletes who have been selected, with my daughter being one. It is great to come and pick up new ideas and innovations from the performance staff, it’s also a great way of networking with the other coaches from around the country."
"For the athlete the programme is not only about performance, but also about forging friendships within the sport and developing their confidence as athletes."
The England Athletics talent pathway is proud to support athletes and their personal coaches with training and education to develop and fulfil their potential in the future on the national and international stages.
Scanning around the track you could see many England and English Schools' AA medallists. Amongst the event groups were those who represented the Team England at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Trinidad and Tobago, including gold medallist and Commonwealth Youth Games javelin record holder, Ayesha Jones.
We caught up with Ayesha’s mum to hear more about her daughter’s selection:
"I was really pleased for Ayesha when she was selected for the Youth Talent Programme. It was the perfect progression for her and was natural for her to apply for.
"It has been really informative as a parent to be in Loughborough today. It is useful to be here in person to get all of the insight about the next two years, as a parent you don’t always get the feedback from your children so it’s great to be involved.”
Creating a fully inclusive programme
One of the fantastic developments from the England Athletics talent team this year has been the integration of para-athletes into the mainstream. Para-athletes can now learn in their event groups alongside non-disabled teammates at the training camp weekends with a number of dedicated, adaptive sessions as part of the curriculum. With many of the athletes new to para-athletics, particularly across the wheelchair disciplines, it was fantastic to see them be given opportunities to try out something new and learn from coaches who have lived experience of any potential challenges.
More on the talent pathway
The Youth Talent Programme is only the first step on the talent pathway ladder at England Athletics as we support athletes across the para and non-disabled disciplines all the way from 16 to senior level as CEO Chris Jones explains:
Other talent programmes
This week we have also announced the brand-new cohorts for the Junior Talent Programme, Senior Programme and the Para Academy.