Search for next big sport stars

Dis­ci­pline on the wa­ter mat­ters

Canning Times - - SPECIAL REPORT -­mu­ni­ d486264 SEE THE VIDEO AT­mu­ni­

WHEN WA In­sti­tute of Sport (WAIS) coach Rhett Ayliffe scouts for the next Olympic kayaker, he looks for com­mit­ment over tal­ent.

“Our sport isn’t main­stream, so ev­ery­one starts on the same level,” the head row­ing coach said.

“With kayak­ing and row­ing, ev­ery­one comes to it with no skills, so any­one can be good at it.

“No hand-eye co-or­di­na­tion is needed.”

How­ever, Ayliffe said dis­ci­pline and com­mit­ment were es­sen­tial be­cause kayak­ers had to re­peat the same mo­tion over and over again, “which is quite a unique skill”.

Ayliffe will be among WAIS coaches and staff search­ing for the next Olympian at a Tal­ent ID (TID) week­end this month.

WAIS kayaker Sam Marsh was a Christ Church Gram­mar School stu­dent when he was iden­ti­fied at a TID event in 2013.

Ath­letes ac­cepted into the WAIS row­ing pro­gram must be part of a ju­nior or un­der-23 na­tional team and demon­strate po­ten­tial to move to the next level.

“We’ll be look­ing for phys­i­cal at­tributes, men­tal ca­pac­ity and tech­ni­cal pro­fi­ciency,” Ayliffe said.

Olympic row­ers Am­ber Bradley and Natalie Bale were dis­cov­ered af­ter at­tend­ing WAIS Tal­ent ID events.

IN 1999, at the age of 13, Olympic sprint kayaker Jesse Phillips was plucked from the school­yard at Aran­more Catholic Col­lege and iden­ti­fied as a fu­ture cham­pion.

Now he will put the next gen­er­a­tion of wanna be Olympians through their paces to help iden­tify ath­letes of the fu­ture at the WA In­sti­tute of Sport (WAIS) Tal­ent ID (TID) week­end.

WAIS staff, in­clud­ing Phillips, Per­for­mance Team Path­way di­rec­tor Jo Richards and phys­i­ol­o­gist Mar­tyn Bin­nie, will work with the state bod­ies for row­ing, canoeing and cycling to iden­tify teenagers aged 13 to 17 who have the phys­i­cal ap­ti­tude for the dis­ci­plines.

Phillips was tested dur­ing PE at school be­fore join­ing the “cream” of Perth’s sec­ondary stu­dents for more test­ing and even­tu­ally join­ing the WAIS kayak pro­gram.

“I had a boy­hood dream of go­ing to the Olympics,” he said. “It was al­ways in the pe­riph­ery for me but I didn’t iden­tify with it un­til I got ac­cepted into WAIS.”

Phillips made his in­ter­na­tional de­but for Aus­tralia in 2003 and com­peted in the Lon­don 2012 Olympics, where he teamed with Stephen Bird to fin­ish sixth in the 200m kayak sprint.

He went to the Rio 2016 Olympics as a kayak coach where he again worked with Bird, who fin­ished eighth in his first in­di­vid­ual in­ter­na­tional fi­nal.

Phillips said his jour­ney had taught him what ath­letes need to suc­ceed.

“So much of com­pet­ing in Olympic-level sport is about your men­tal ap­proach and burn­ing de­sire to be the best,” he said.

Bin­nie said staff would con­duct a range of generic tests so staff could pro­file the ba­sic phys­i­cal ca­pac­i­ties – lever­age, strength, en­durance, power – re­quired to per­form in cycling, row­ing and kayak­ing.

“Fol­low­ing the com­ple­tion of this ini­tial batch of test­ing, se­lected ath­letes will be in­vited to test for more sport-spe­cific tests of strength, flex­i­bil­ity and en­durance that will fur­ther high­light suit­abil­ity across the dif­fer­ent sports,” he said.

Richards said WAIS was in the unique po­si­tion to be able to pro­mote a path­way to Olympic sports though its pro­grams.

Picture: An­drew Ritchie

WAIS head row­ing coach Rhett Ayliffe with ath­letes Sam Marsh and Siena Zamin.

Main picture: An­drew Ritchie­mu­ni­ d485211

Olympic ca­noeist Jesse Phillips (above) was iden­ti­fied through a WAIS Tal­ent ID week­end, be­fore go­ing on to rep­re­sent Aus­tralia (left).

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