WRITTEN FOR THE OCWK WEBSITE
To kick off the summer outdoor track season, double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes yesterday brought together two of her mentoring and education initiatives at the “Get Set for 2011” Get-Together with great success, writes Nicola Bamford.
Based at Birmingham University’s excellent sports facilities, talented athletes from both the ‘On Camp with Kelly’ (OCWK) and ‘Future Stars with Kelly’ (FSWK) initiatives enjoyed an action-packed day of training and workshops designed to prepare them for the arduous season ahead.
Following an overnight stay in the west-midlands city, a small group plagued by injury began their day at an early hour with a drilling from Dame Kelly in the pool in an intensive aqua-jogging session.
After breakfast, a total of 26 middle-distance stars descended on the university to be welcomed by an inspirational opening speech from Dame Kelly.
Showcasing video highlights of past events to provide an overview of the scheme for newcomers, Dame Kelly then gave an insight into the benefits of her nationally-recognised initiatives as well as tips on how to remain in the sport and at a high-level as the athletes reach an age ravaged by a large drop-out rate.
After each athlete and member of staff had introduced themselves to the group, a warm-up took place outside in an untimely bout of torrential rain.
Following a skilful drills session overseen by Dame Kelly, the athletes then ventured onto the track where the unfortunate weather continued – mostly enjoyed only by the residing ducks in the steeplechase water-jump.
Some decided upon a steady run or gym session as an alternative, and benefitting from free physiotherapy and sports massage services available throughout the day, the group were indeed well looked after.
With three groups showing off their abilities at super-fast speed, Dame Kelly could even be spotted sprinting down the home straight of one athletes’ 300m repetition session but alas, she still insists that her running days are well and truly behind her!
After lunch, Dame Kelly gave a season preparation workshop to the Aviva-sponsored OCWK athletes with a large focus on goal-setting for the season ahead.
Stressing the importance of being specific, she then went onto discuss selection criteria and entry standards for the years in addition to providing tips for quality preparation such as mental preparation, quality sessions, competition simulation and mental rehearsal before a race – finishing the session with past race video’s showcasing determination and aggressive race tactics.
At same time, the FSWK group partook in a nutritional workshop with Matt Cole who explained the importance of knowing exactly what an athlete is eating as well as tips on adequately eating to fuel and recover.
Next up was a physiotherapy workshop with Sarah Connors who discussed signs of injury, causes, treatment and prevention then took the athletes over to the gym to teach self-massage techniques with foam-rollers and tennis balls.
Whilst the FSWK group had their turn in the season preparation session with their mentor, Nicola Bamford took the OCWK athletes through a media training workshop, covering topics such as how to be marketable, interview tips for face-to-face and over the phone and email, social media advice, interview prep and quote rehearsal.
Nearing the end of the day, Sandrine Walker led a practical-filled Pilates session back in the gym before Dame Kelly brought the successful event to a close with a light snack and closing speech with good luck messages to the group.
The Athens 2004 800m and 1500m champion reflected:
“The Get-Together went very well - it was the first time I’ve joined up my FSWK and OCWK athletes like this and I think they all excelled and learned a lot.
The workshops were appropriate for this time of year such as the season preparation to help get them ready for the season ahead and having the opportunity to all train together was something they all really thrived on and a different environment helped bring the best out of them.
The media training was appropriate for the OCWK athletes as they’re at that age and level where the media are interested in them and everyone benefitted from the Pilates session including myself and the nutrition showed how important it is to them.
I think all of the athletes applied themselves well – they all know what I expect from them and I think everybody tried really well. Bringing the two groups together was a great idea.”
GB international Faye Fullerton, 26 of Havering Mayersbrook also gave her thoughts on the day:
“The OCWK day was really insightful and particularly beneficial as we received guidance and tips on everything from our season goals to injury prevention.
This invaluable advice will no doubt constitute to my performances over the next two coming seasons.
The help and support that the OCWK team as well as Kelly herself give was extremely valuable. I am very grateful to be part of such an enthusiastic and highly-motivated group of athletes.”
FSWK athlete Robbie Schofield, 20, of Newham and Essex Beagles and Loughborough University said:
“It’s been a fantastic day, I’ve really enjoyed it – there are a lot of things I can take away from the day to help me progress.
It’s terrific to be mentored by Dame Kelly – it was great to have her support, especially when I was aqua-jogging in the pool.”