First Wave Of Sporting Giants Tested

Searching for precocious talent ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games took another step further this weekend when testing took place at the first of five weekends as part of the ARA’s World Class Start Testing Programme, sponsored by Siemens, with help from UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport (EIS) in Nottingham.
This weekend – along with four more before 2nd September –  will see over 2,500 young men and women right across the UK tested to see if they have the initial characteristics to be an Olympic Rower in timeframes for London 2012.

All those attending had filled in an extensive athlete profile to the UK Sport website following the nationwide call for tall athletes (Men: > 190cm; Females: > 180cm) from the UK Sport / EIS ‘Sporting Giants’, campaign launched earlier this year. The aim of the campaign is to work in partnership with the Olympic Development Programmes of Rowing, Handball and Volleyball, to assist them in actively search-out potential Olympic medallists, who are exceptionally tall as a starting benchmark!

Taking place in Nottingham, staff from the ARA’s World Class Start Programme, sponsored by Siemens, alongside UK Sport and the EIS were all present to put the athletes through their paces. After an inspiring initial briefing from the staff about the opportunities ahead with London 2012, and insights into what it really takes to be a World Class rower, the testing aspects commenced. The assessment procedures included specific body measurements looking for physical features similar to that of Olympic rowers, an arm/leg bike test looking to examine the applicant’s endurance capabilities and the chance to show their competitive spirit by competing head-to-head in an ergo trial. 

One of the ‘Sporting Giants’ who was tested over the weekend was Jack Wilson, who is 18 years old and 6’5” tall;

“I found out about Sporting Giants on the BBC website and told my friend Alistair about it. He’s here testing today too.

“Today has been good. It’s hard work. I didn’t know what to except from it and I came here with an open mind. But I’ve given it my all today. It would be nice to go through but I haven’t got my hopes up.”

Jack travelled up with his mother, Sarah who was able to watch as the day unfolded;

 “It’s been very smoothly organised. When Jack was doing the bike test one of the other guys gave him such support. All the guys have been talking to each other, cheering each other on. And I wasn’t expecting to be able to watch him, which is really nice.”

UK Sport’s Head of Talent, Chelsea Warr was pleased with how the weekend went:

“Testing so many athletes with accuracy and precision is a huge task, but with all key agencies working in partnership  that being GB Rowing, UK Sport and the EIS we have got off to a great start this weekend. We saw a number of athletes that showed definite promise across the range of tests, but equally impressive was the competitive attitudes and “buzz” atmosphere of the applicants and their supporters we had there”/ . This undoubtedly shows how much the British public are up to do well in a home Olympics”. .

“We are confident that in partnership with the ARA’s World Class Start Programme, sponsored by Siemens, some new talent that may never have considered featuring in an Olympics, or quite possibly on the medal rostrum, will be discovered”.

"If the early indications of the standard of athletes are accurate, then this could be the most powerful single identification tool any country has ever seen to recruit outstanding rowers," said Peter Shakespear, who manages the ARA’s World Class Start scheme.

The next set of testing takes place in Manchester this coming weekend (Saturday 4th August), where another cohort of Olympic hopefuls will be put through their paces.