Page last updated at 02:23 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

'Switch sport for Olympics' plea

Darren Campbell (centre) wins Olympic gold in 2004
Tears of joy: Darren Campbell [centre] found he excelled at athletics too

Talented young people who miss out on getting into professional football or rugby union squads are being urged to switch sports and try for the Olympics.

The Pitch2Podium scheme aims to prevent youngsters released by academies drifting away from sport altogether.

Their athleticism could be turned to other sports like cycling or hockey.

Darren Campbell, who played football for Plymouth Argyle before switching to athletics and winning Olympic gold, said it was a "fantastic opportunity."

The talent transfer scheme was piloted last year with the English football authorities, and has now been reopened with the backing of both Scottish football and English rugby union's governing bodies.

"We saw from the athletes that came through Pitch2Podium last year that these players have trained hard and are disciplined, which provides them with a solid grounding for a potential future in Olympic sport," added Campbell, who is an ambassador for the scheme.

"If nothing else, it can provide a very exciting 'Plan B'."

After being released, a return to the professional game can never be guaranteed, but now I have a real chance of getting somewhere in elite sport
James Hoad, former Watford FC Academy goalkeeper

Players will be put through their paces with physical tests designed to identify those with the potential to thrive in an Olympic sport.

The tests will be conducted by sport scientists from the English and Scottish Institutes of Sport, along with Olympic coaches, at one of four assessment events starting at the end of the month.

UK Sport Talent Manager Chelsea Warr said those that took part in 2008 were "impressive".

More than 80% of those tested in the first phase were of interest to at least one Olympic sport, and 39% to two or more sports, she said.

"Unfortunately, not all of these players are going to make it to the top of the game, but via Pitch2Podium they could transfer the ready-made skills and abilities they have developed into a new sport, and potentially even progress towards the Olympic podium," she added.

'Waste'

James Hoad, a former Watford FC academy goalkeeper, took part in Pitch2Podium last year and has been selected for trials in bob skeleton, cycling and hockey.

"After being released, a return to the professional game can never be guaranteed, but now I have a real chance of getting somewhere in elite sport."

England under-18 rugby union coach, John Fletcher, said for many their chosen sport does not work out, through injury or the perception that they might not make the grade.

"Many are discouraged and leave sport altogether. Understandable in the short term but what a waste in the mid to long term when that person's skills set might be ideally suited to another sport," he said.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Footballers targeted for Olympics
04 Jun 08 |  London 2012

RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific