Mike Rowbottom: Rising Stars aspire yet higher thanks to Kelly Holmes, David Roberts and Mark Foster

Saturday, 16 February 2013
Mike Rowbottom head and shouldersKelly Holmes may have bid farewell to one of her ground-breaking projects encouraging young sportsmen and women - the On Camp With Kelly scheme which came to an end in 2012 after providing eight years of support for up-and-coming distance runners - but she will clearly never say goodbye to offering her experience and enthusiasm to the next generation.

Dame Kelly's latest commitment in this sphere occurred earlier this month as she was involved in a two-day residential course for the Rising Stars who are part of the Jaguar Academy of Sport, which began its 2013 with a bespoke Mentoring and Education Programme (MEP), delivered by Kelly Holmes Education.

The 2012 Rising Stars and their guests, who included parents, carers and coaches, were invited to the University of Warwick for workshops which focused on coping with injury and planning for success, with the added inspiration of listening to words of advice from three outstanding British sporting performers.

Working alongside Dame Kelly - who is a Patron of the Jaguar Academy along with David Beckham, Sir Ian Botham, Sir Steve Redgrave, Gareth Edwards and  Denise Lewis - were Ambassadors David Roberts, with 11 Paralympic swimming titles to his name, and Mark Foster, who has won six world titles in the pool.

The two-day session saw Rising Stars take part in circuit training with Dame Kelly and consider the mental and physical aspects of coping with injury as well as a goal-setting workshop.

kelresidDame Kelly Holmes leads the session at Warwick University, assisted by multiple Paralympic swimming gold medallist David Roberts (left) and six-times world swimming champion Mark Foster

"It was great to talk to the Academy's Rising Stars again and share their experiences good and bad in the early stages of their sporting careers," said Dame Kelly. "After 2012 being such a memorable year for British sport, we hope to build on the amazing inspiration that touched every young athlete and provide a high quality education and mentoring experience.

"I feel so passionately about the benefits of mentoring and education to long term performance and learning as an athlete, which is why I'm delighted to run the unique mentoring and education programme with my team on behalf of the Academy.

residRising Star athletes get into action under close supervision from Dame Kelly and Co

"There has been a real buzz around the Rising Stars and support team during the workshops; hopefully they have all taken away some valuable lessons to keep working towards their goals."

The one-to-one mentoring programme for the five Special Recognition Award winners named at the Annual Awards in December was also confirmed, which meant that Jack Walker will be guided by David Flatman, the former international and Bath rugby player, Samuel Ibbotson will work with Anna Hemmings, the six-times world champion canoeist, Sophie Pyatt will be partnered by Adam Whitehead,  European and Commonwealth swimming champion, William Deary will work with Bryan Steel, two times an Olympic cycling medallist, and tennis player Joshua Ward-Hibbert will be partnered with Sarah Winckless, Olympic bronze medallist and double world champion.

Walker, from Settle, has just been selected for the first time by England Under-18s for the game against Scotland on March 3.

Talking at the Rising Stars Residential he said: "The workshops have been fantastic and once again very insightful. I was delighted to be named a Special Recognition Winner in December at the Annual Awards and I'm really looking forward to meeting up with muy mentor David Flatman very soon."

Amy Willmott, a young dressage rider from Carshalton, Surrey, commented: "The Bursary from the Jaguar Academy of Sport has made a huge difference to my sporting career already. The financial boost plus the fantastic mentoring and education programme has given me so much information to apply to my training and competitions.

residentTheory accompanies practice at the Jaguar Academy of Sport's weekend course

"Over the last year, the bursary has enabled me to move up from restricted to open level competition which has been a big jump, and now I'm preparing for the Paralympic level of competition.

"I have taken so much from the psychology elements of the programme, as I need to develop a trusting relationship with my horse. The input of athletes like Kelly Holmes and David Roberts, has given me real confidence with my physical training and development."

Another Rising Star going places is 16-year-old wrestler George Ramm, from Bolton, whose sights are now set on the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow after earning a silver medal at last month's Australian Youth Olympic Festival last month.

"Over the Mentoring and Education Programme, I have learned how to really look after myself as an athlete and the real highlight has been meeting all the sports stars like David Beckham, Sir Steve Redgrave and Dame Kelly Holmes," said Ramm.

"I was only targeting a top six placing at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival, so taking silver is certainly my biggest achievement to date. I have decided with my coach to now move up to senior level, which is a big jump. But I feel I'm ready.

"My training now is geared towards the Commonwealth Games after the Senior British Championships this October, so it is an important 18 months for me in my progression."

Another Jaguar Academy of Sport Rising Star, boxer Crystal Barker from Salford. is hoping to emulate the achievements of Olympic champion Nicola Adams last summer after taking the European Junior title last November.

"I've really enjoyed the workshops and definitely learnt a lot," she said. "I really hope I don't get injured in my sporting career but the likelihood is that I will at some point. To hear now what has happened to successful athletes and how they've coped is great to give you the tools to overcome any setbacks. It really does prepare you for what might come, but I'm working hard for the World Championships in May and now enjoying training with the GB squad in Sheffield every other weekend."

The Jaguar Academy of Sport aims to recognise, celebrate and inspire the very best of British sporting talent and success. This is fulfilled through a Bursary Fund and the Mentoring and Education Programme delivered by Kelly Holmes Education.

The programme is a collection of themed Talent Days and Workshops which support the Rising Stars to overcome a number of obstacles they may encounter during their sporting career.

fosterparadeMark Foster taking part in the London parade after competing at the Beijing 2008

The topics covered include: external influences on performance, presenting yourself to sponsors, looking after your body for life, being world-class, financial and fife planning, building a successful team and celebrating success.

The programme is an integral part of the Academy's success and provides the 50 Rising Stars each year with invaluable non-financial support to enhance their overall development and learning, helping them on their journey to fulfilling their sporting dreams. Rising Stars work with the Academy's Patrons and Ambassadors through tailored Workshops and Talent Days, which are delivered by experts in their fields.

The support the Jaguar Academy of Sport has provided has made a tangible difference to the Rising Stars development pathway, with 33 per cent of the 2010 Rising Stars and 30 per cent of 2011 Rising Stars moving on to Talent Development Pathway Funding. The Jaguar Academy of Sport has received a highly commended status from the Marketing Society Awards 2012 for the work it is doing to support the next generation of British sporting talent.

To be eligible for the Jaguar Academy of Sport Bursary Fund, any young athlete, both able-bodied and those with a disability, has to be nominated to SportsAid for financial support by their sports own national governing body (NGB).

The Academy's Ambassadors include Colin Jackson, Jamie Baulch, Jessica Ennis, Sir Chris Hoy, Rio Ferdinand, Mark Foster, David Roberts and Jonny Wilkinson.

Members include A.P. McCoy, Sam Warburton, Sally Gunnell and Mo Farah.

All in all, it is an impressive effort in the cause of helping young sportsmen and women to emulate successes already achieved within the international sporting arena.

Mike Rowbottom, one of Britain's most talented sportswriters, covered the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics as chief feature writer for insidethegames, having covered the previous five summer Games, and four winter Games, for The Independent. He has worked for the Daily Mail, The Times, The Observer, the Sunday Correspondent and The Guardian. To follow him on Twitter click here
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