Sunday, 23 October 2011

Loughborough ‘Future Stars’ Day a Success


Loughborough College yesterday held the fourth ‘Future Stars with Kelly’ education day, where 70 of the UK’s most talented athletes between the ages of 14 and 18 descended on the East Midlands with their parents and coaches to be educated by Dame Kelly Holmes and her team, writes Nicola Bamford.

Selected by the 2004 double Olympic champion herself for their outstanding performances in 2011 at national schools and youth international championships, the athletes included four members of the Aviva GB & NI Team at this year's IAAF World Youth Championships - Georgia Peel (Aldershot, Farnham & District), James McMurray (St Albans) and Robbie Farnham-Rose (Tonbridge AC) who all finished in the top eight in their respective 1500m finals and Katie Snowden who was seventh in the 800m.

In a nine-hour day of educational practical and theoretical workshops for the FSWK athletes and their guests, 15 ‘On Camp with Kelly’ athletes were also on hand throughout the day to act as inspirational role models and offer advice and assistance. They were: Charlotte Best, Suzi Boast, Dani Christmas, Rowena Cole, Lucy Dowsett, Kerrie Harris, Leigh Lennon, Sam Petty, Carolyn Plateau, Zac Randall, Robbie Schofield, Louise Small, Stacey Smith, Linzi Snow and Laura Weightman.

The day began with a welcome introduction from Kelly who highlighted the principles of her OCWK initiative to set a target for the young athletes in front of her to aspire to.

She also outlined the intricate pathway to success from success at schools championships to that of a senior athlete and how the day ahead would increase the athletes’ knowledge through education as well as teaching various parent and coach support methods.

A motivational video montage of her winning displays over 800m and 1500m at the Athens Olympics followed before Kelly warned of the changes which occur in teenage life that can threaten their athletic career.

She then introduced the four athletes who this summer moved from FS to the OCWK scheme and highlighted which characteristics it takes to be successful.

All of the event staff and OCWK athletes introduced themselves and revealed their past English Schools’ achievements before Kelly congratulated the FSWK athletes who competed at the IAAF World Youth, European Junior, European Youth and Commonwealth Youth Championships in 2011.

Next up was a nutritional workshop for parents with performance nutritionist Mhairi Keil, who highlighted the importance and examples of healthy eating for energy and recovery. She then listed the requirements for a young athlete, negative impacts, key times for energy intake, recovery foods and helpful nutrition for injury prevention and assistance.

At the same time, the athletes were either participating in a grass fartlek session led by Kelly with boy’s supervisor Tony Whiteman and a handful of OCWK athletes nipping at their heels, whilst the injured athletes trained in the swimming pool or gym.

Mid-morning saw Kelly and sports physiotherapist Alison Rose take a drills session
in the sports hall for the more recent members of the FSWK scheme and their coaches.

They explained the importance of rehabilitation, dynamic and commonly-used drills whilst OCWK athlete Laura Weightman demonstrated the exercises to the group as Alison took them through each phase with technical advice.

The athletes then did a series of walk-through drills to practice with assistance from their OCWK counterparts, as Kelly helped the coaches themselves practice to further their knowledge and understanding, who then worked alongside their charges to provide feedback.

The more experienced athletes, coaches and parents, meanwhile, took part in a 100% me workshop with the UK Anti-Doping team, who tested them in a ‘Weakest Link’-type quiz on how to be responsible with what they digest, the values of competing clean and drug testing procedures, whilst the first-time parents to the FSWK scheme attended a parent’s workshop with Next Generation Coaching director Sonya Shellard, who emphasised the various demands on their children and how to use language, praise and distance to help them relax and grow.

In the early afternoon, the coaches attended a circuits discussion with Kelly and supervisor and level three endurance coach Stella Bandu to devise ideas for future sessions, whilst the male athletes, their parents and coaches enjoyed a healthy lunch and took part in an anti-doping quiz.

Before the female athletes and their guests could enjoy a well-earned break, they sat in an eye-opening lecture on the Female Athlete Triad, led by Dr Paul Goozee, a GP, cardiology hospital practioner and England team doctor with Mhairi Keil.

The audience learned about the risks of having low body fat, the importance of eating correctly, menstrual disturbances, causes and signs of disorded eating and diagnosis and treatments, as well as watching an emotional video case study from Australian distance runner and anorexia survivor Georgie Clarke.

In mid-afternoon, the female athletes and their coaches and parents took part in the anti-doping quiz, whilst the males athletes and their guests attended a Staying Fit and Healthy workshop with Dr Goozee.

Next up was another 100% me workshop for the newer attendees whilst Mhairi Keil took some parents through a practical cooking lesson, where they cooked up energy bars, frittata and lime chicken stir-fry to take away as their children participated in an injury-prevention session with Alison Rose, who guided them through a practical functional movement screen to test the strength and flexibility of their calves, hamstrings and glutes, for example.

Nearing the end of the day, as the parents took part in a follow-up parent’s workshop on providing positive support, Kelly drilled all of the athletes in a vigorous circuit training session in the sports hall as their coaches looked on and gave advice. Kelly explained the benefits of such sessions as well as safety tips for participating in large groups, followed by demonstrations from OCWK athletes and impressive displays from Kelly herself. After a mass warm-up, and arduous session ensued with the athletes lined up in pairs to execute a tiring series of tricep dips, ab crunches, squat thrusts and sprinting.

To finish the day on a motivational note, World 1500m silver-medallist Hannah England and World 800m semi-finalist Emma Jackson – both OCWK athletes for a number of years – took part in a question and answer session. After watching inspirational video clips of their finest performances, the floor were given the chance to ask about their days as younger athletes, lives as full-time athletes and thoughts on their recent achievements – providing a fitting end to an action-packed day for all involved.

English Schools’ intermediate 800m bronze-medallist Dudley Mason gave his thoughts on the day:

“I mostly enjoyed doing the session with the athletes but in a more friendly environment where you can have a laugh.

“I learned the importance of drills and also getting nutritional help to make sure I’m eating right was helpful.

“It’s a great pleasure to be selected for Future Stars as I am amongst the top 70 in the country.

“My plans for the winter season are to train hard and do well in cross-country and indoor races.”

English Schools’ intermediate 3,000m champion, Natalia Hackett explained:

“I enjoyed meeting Kelly Holmes and learning lots from herself and her team.

“I’ve learned lots of new drills which will help my efficient and help with injury prevention and I enjoyed learning about the female athlete triad.

“It’s a real honour to be selected for the FSWK initiative and to be around other great athletes and Kelly herself.

“My biggest achievement of 2011 was winning the English Schools’ in a personal best and being selected to run for England and my plans for the winter are to have a good cross-country season.”

Meanwhile, David Paulson, father of Will, the English Schools’ intermediate 1500m champion said:

“The day was really well organised and Kelly is obviously a great role model for the athletes.

“We’ve learnt lots today and it’s a great opportunity for us and Will’s coach Chris to support him better and he’s learned a lot today as well so everybody wins.”

Trevor Muxlow, the coach to Robert Needham, the English Schools’ senior 800m champion revealed:

“I’ve found today very informative and I’ve been very impressed with seeing Kelly demonstrating the drills and circuits with great technical skill, it’s great to see she’s maintained such a great level of fitness.

“Being an old-fashioned coach, I found the drills session the most informative with the technical advice provided and we’ve really enjoyed the day.”

OCWK athlete and UK 1500m indoor champion Stacey Smith gave her opinion on the day:

“It’s nice to see these young one’s come through and learn so much here.

“I think today’s been a really good day and the atmosphere has showed that everyone was really up for it – they’ve taken a lot away from today.

“I started on OCWK four years ago and it’s really developed me as an athlete so much so I’ve got to thank them a lot for what they’ve done.”

The last word on the event was left for Kelly herself, who explained:

“The day was a great success – we had a great turnout of athletes, coaches and parents and I hope they’ve all learnt something from the day.

“All of the athletes really got stuck in and applied themselves well so as long as they can focus on what they’ve learned today, they can use the skills and tools from today to be great athletes later on.

“The OCWK athletes always make me proud and are getting better and better themselves – they’re now realising that being leaders was key today and it was good that they were on hand to answer the younger athletes’ questions today.”

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