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Pitch2Podium Launch

The search for hidden talent ahead of London 2012 took another step forward this week as UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport (EIS) tested the first cohort of applicants for Pitch2Podium – a talent identification initiative looking to provide young footballers who have been unfortunate enough to be released by their club with the opportunity to explore how far up the Olympic ladder they can climb.

Over the previous months, both organisations have worked closely with major football organisations including League Football Education, The FA, The Professional Footballers’ Association and The Football League to learn more about the exciting ‘hot bed’ of talent available from Professional Football.

Taking place at Lee Valley Athletics Centre, the day was the first of two Olympic Talent Assessment Events taking place this month designed to identify whether any of the applicants had the raw attributes required for World and Olympic success in targeted sports.

After a welcome from Phil Gallagher, UK Sport’s Performance Lifestyle Consultant, athletes were put through their paces, starting with the collection of key body measurements.

This was followed by more challenging assessments on the applicants’ strength, power, and speed – where the athletes pitted themselves against target scores set by some of Britain’s most successful Olympians. Among those participating were 14 ex-Apprentices from Football League clubs.

Pitch2Podium – London Event 5th July 2008

Following a well-earned lunch, the athletes heard presentations from those in the elite system who found themselves in a similar position, with David Price (GB Boxing) and Bob White (British Handball) discussing both the challenges and benefits of leaving football and trying a new sport.

The day closed with a tough endurance test, the dreaded bleep test, where the applicants thrived in the competitive nature of the test.

Ian Yates, EIS Talent ID Coordinator said:

“The quality of the athletes here today was not surprising given their many years of development in an elite football environment, but it was their application to the tests that was most pleasing to see with all boys pushing themselves to the limit – and then some!”

He continued:

“We are confident that our partnership with the football authorities will allow us to discover some special talent, and that someone who may never have imagined playing another sport – let alone featuring in an Olympic Games – could quite conceivably win a medal.”

The second event will take place in Manchester on Saturday 19th July 2008 where the next cohort of Olympic hopefuls will be put through their paces.

Following this, the aim is to filter those with outstanding potential into targeted World Class Programmes within British Cycling, GB Hockey, UK Athletics, Pentathlon GB, British Canoe Union and British Bob Skeleton.

Here, they will receive specialist coaching and support to explore their ability to make the transition to the medal podium in a new Olympic sport.

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