AOC Supports search for future Olympians1 October 2013
AOC: The Australian Olympic Committee has thrown its full support behind a nationwide search for future Olympic champions being conducted by the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).
AOC Director of Sport, Fiona de Jong, said today “any program that is going to potentially deliver successful future Olympians is a program that we are fully supportive of”.
The first AIS Sports Draft will focus on boxing and judo, with selection trials to be held in eight locations across Australia during October and November.
“I think it is really about shaking the tree and giving athletes exposure to a range of different sports to see that they reach their potential” de Jong said.
“We are particularly interested to see if this gets legs because there are 212 Olympic medals up for grabs in combined combat sports and traditionally we have not won too many medals in them so finding and nurturing talent we think will lead to success at future Olympic Games in Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020”.
De Jong rejected suggestions that there was too much emphasis placed on Australian athletes winning medals at the Olympics.
“The medal count is important to Australia. Australians love to see their athletes excel on the world stage. We have all grown up with sport being a rich part of our society and I think to pretend that we don’t care is just not the reality that the public expects of our athletes. We are a high achieving nation and on the sporting field is one opportunity where we can show the rest of the world that while we are a small nation from down under we can achieve success on the international scene and sport is the avenue where we can do that” she said.
The AIS program offers greater opportunities for talented athletes in country areas. Some of the selection trials will be held in the regional areas including Bendigo and Gladstone.
“I think sport is such an integral part of the country community and this is what the search is all about, it’s about seeing what talent is out there, seeing if we can nurture that and give them a pathway through to the Olympic Games”.
Some high profile Olympians have changed sports with great success including rower Kim Crow who came from athletics, diver Brittany Broben who came from gymnastics and kayaker Jacob Clear who started in surf lifesaving.
“There has been a number of athletes who have crossed over from different sports and have succeeded when they have found a sport that is right for them.
This is just another avenue for us to unearth some of those talented kids who may not have been exposed to the different sports through their school system or their local sports clubs” de Jong said.
“With such a small population in Australia it is always a challenge to find the talented athletes and keep that depth of talent. There is no denying that the young people of today have so many distractions with technology and keeping sport relevant to them is certainly a priority and I think that will be part of our success in future Olympic Games if we can nurture and foster that culture and the importance of sport in Australia” de Jong said.
For more information and to register, visit ausport.gov.au