A two-year programme to inspire and prepare a new generation of sporting champions concluded on Sunday with a celebration, as well as some Sport Relief fun.
Olympic legend Dame Kelly Holmes led the final talent day of the Isle of Man Sporting Excellence Programme at the National Sports Centre, where more than 60 performers and coaches attended workshops and sessions covering functional movement and conditioning, anti-doping, sponsorship, aqua running and a sprint master class.
Officials from the Isle of Man Commonwealth Games Association also attended sessions on media training and anti-doping.
Performers and coaches from across a broad range of sports, including many focused on the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, have benefited from the programme, which, in addition to elements of physical training, offered expert knowledge to address the emotional, physiological, psychological and social aspects of being a top sports performer.
On Sunday, Dame Kelly was joined by elite athletes and experts including sprinter and British 100 metres record-holder Montell Douglas, her coach Daniel Plummer, former professional footballer Drewe Broughton, former 800m runner turned competitive cyclist Dani Christmas, leading trainer and coach Mark Bennett, MBE, journalist and media consultant Sybil Ruscoe and UK anti-doping officials Matt Furber and Mike Evans.
The local sports performers and coaches worked hard throughout the day, but there was also some time for fun as everyone took to the NSC track to run a mile in support of the weekend’s Sports Relief charity efforts.
Some ran, some walked, some tried cartwheeling and one athlete finished the mile walking on his hands. However they completed the distance, everyone at the Talent Day joined thousands of people around Britain in supporting Sport Relief, which raised more than £50 million this weekend for projects that change lives both at home and abroad.
This was the third talent day of year two of the Isle of Man Sporting Excellence Programme, and marked the end of the programme, which was launched in 2012. Supported by island businesses SMP Partners, Creechurch Capital and Microgaming, the programme was delivered by Kelly Holmes Education, and also involved Isle of Man Sport, the Isle of Man Coaches’ Association and the Isle of Man Commonwealth Games Association.
Dame Kelly said: ‘It was a fantastic day, which saw everyone working really hard and taking as much as they could away from the workshops and sessions. The effort they put into the aqua running session, which is so physically demanding, was astounding and shows the levels of commitment these dedicated sports performers have.
‘Both years of the programme have been great fun to deliver and watching the progress of the participants has been really rewarding. Sunday’s event concluded the two-year programme aimed at preparing the sports performers and coaches for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and with the games just around the corner everyone here at Kelly Holmes Education, and the programme sponsors, are delighted to see the impact the programme has made on those aiming for selection to the Isle of Man team.’
She added: ‘While it’s sad the programme is ending, I can’t wait to see how the Isle of Man gets on in Glasgow and, after 10 years of providing dedicated training and mentoring, Kelly Holmes Education is now turning its attention to fresh challenges.’
Managing director of SMP Partners Mark Denton said: ‘The final talent day was a tremendous event and it was very satisfying to see, once again, our sports performers and coaches taking as much away from the experts as they could. I was particularly pleased to be able to join Kelly and the others for the Sport Relief mile, which was great fun.
‘I am really proud of what the programme has achieved over the past two years, and pleased SMP Partners has been a part of it. I hope everyone who has attended has benefitted from having access to the workshops, tuition and expertise, and will be able to reach their full potential. I will be attending the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and can’t wait to see Team Isle of Man in action, including the many people who attended the Sporting Excellence Programme.’
Roger Raatgever, chief executive officer of Microgaming, added: ‘We are honoured to have been a part of the Isle of Man Sporting Excellence Programme. At Microgaming we believe it’s important to nurture talent and ensure people reach their utmost potential; this programme epitomised this. Over the past two years both the coaches and athletes have gained invaluable experience and this is something they’ll be able to draw upon for the rest of their sporting careers.
‘With the 2014 Commonwealth Games just a few months away, I’d like to wish everyone in Team Isle of Man the absolute best of luck!’
The performance co-ordinator for Isle of Man Sport, a government agency, Chris Quine said: ‘After nearly two years of planning and delivery, the Sporting Excellence Programme has drawn to a close. Isle of Man Sport would particularly like to thank Dame Kelly Holmes and all of her team for providing this programme, but special thanks are due to our three main sponsors, Creechurch Capital, Microgaming and SMP Partners, without whom this programme would not have happened.
‘Hopefully the athletes have been able to gain an insight into the many elements that are required to be a top sportsperson and are much better equipped to apply these in their own sporting careers. In the short-term, we are optimistic that this will translate into some great results at the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. In the longer-term, it has provided a platform for many of our younger athletes to build on and something that they can utilise as they take their careers forward in future years.
‘One of the most interesting aspects of the programme has been the coach education programme and this has given many in the coaching community an insight into some of the most up to date thinking into how to coach most effectively. The potential legacy from this could be enormous.
‘As we look forward, it is now our task to build upon what has been achieved so far and to see how we can best support our athletes and coaches in the future.’