Regional NSW athletes on highway to Olympics via Pursu32+
16th June 2023
By Bianca Smith
The New South Wales Institute of Sport (NSWIS) in partnership with the Regional Academies of Sport RAS) have launched a high performance talent pathway program for athletes from country NSW. The program connects both targeted regional athletes and their coaches to high performance expertise and provides opportunities to develop their success in Olympic sports.
NSW Minister for Sport, the Hon Steve Kamper MP, was pleased to see NSWIS (NSW agency for High Performance sport) join forces with the Regional Academies of Sport network to formulate a pilot program focused on creating opportunities for regional athletes to explore their potential to progress to elite level competition and ultimately represent the nation at global sporting events.
“The Pursu32+ RAS talent program is a great example of NSWIS and RAS collaborating to identify and nurture young, talented athletes and their coaches from country NSW to be competition ready for the 2032 Brisbane Olympic Games,” said Mr Kamper.
“This program not only recognizes the enormous amount of untapped talent in our regional areas, but also serves to provides young, grassroots athletes – our next generation of sporting stars – with real aspirational goals.”
The collaboration between NSWIS and RAS provides a crucial connection and strategic outcomes. For NSWIS, the program establishes a pipeline for talented athletes, while RAS will benefit from their connection to the Sydney-based Institute’s expertise and support.
NSWIS Chief Executive Officer, Kevin Thompson, said the Pursu32+ RAS talent program filled important needs for both NSWIS and RAS.
“The role of NSWIS is to support athletes to become world’s best,” said Mr Thompson. “But we need talent supply,. . . the athletes . . . who when they are awarded an NSWIS scholarship are ready for the rigors and demands of an elite daily training environment…NSWIS ready…so ultimately, they are competition ready, can win well …produce medal winning performances at major international sporting events, such as the Olympics.
“I am also pleased to think this is a tremendous opportunity for NSWIS and RAS to further galvanize our relationship. By utilizing our respective expertise and resources, we can work together towards fulfilling our vision of more NSW athletes winning medals for Australia at major international events - including the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.”
The program’s first intake of 25 athletes aged between 14-18 will occur later this year. Each participant will have been nominated in consultation with RAS and their sport as having the potential to progress to elite level competition. Besides travelling to Sydney to attend an initial NSWIS led training camp, the athletes will also receive access to the Institute’s staff, the NSW Office of Sport online physical literacy program, and exposure to national level coaches.
Chair of the NSW RASi network, Brett O’Farrell, said he was excited by the opportunities the Pursue 32+ RAS talent program would provide the athletes who were selected to participate in it, and the impact it would have on sport in regional NSW.
“This program will build on the athlete numbers RAS has produced for many years working with NSWIS. Further innovation in performance support will also provide these talent pathway athletes with higher quality support, continuing our recent successes that includes 56 Australian Olympians being RAS Alumni in the past two Olympic cycles,” said Mr O’Farrell.
“Connecting regional athletes and their coaches with NSWIS at a deeper level and supplying more talent rich regional athletes can only enhance our ability to help nurture the next crop of Australian sporting stars from regional NSW. Today’s announcement will excite many young athletes, their parents, coaches, and local communities.”
NSWIS Director of Coaching Regional & Talent, Andrew Logan, said an important purpose of the program was to also provide regional athletes with an insight into the expectations they may face should they progress through to an elite high performance program.
“The opportunities we can provide regional athletes through the Pursu32+ RAS talent program, will allow them to understand – and prepare for - the rigors and demands of the daily training environment that come with being granted an NSWIS scholarship,” said Mr Logan.
“The insights they’ll obtain through having access to NSWIS’s high performance staff and the Institute’s programs, should allow the athletes to literally hit the ground running if and when they receive their shot to join the calibre of high performance program NSWIS provides.”
Sarah Carli, a Tokyo2020 Olympian, NSWIS scholarship athlete, and graduate of the Illawarra Regional Sports Academy, described the initiative as a “game changer” for athletes who live outside of the Sydney metropolitan area.
“It’s so important for athletes to be recognised by programs like Pursue 32+ because it gives them backing and confidence that they’re capable of bigger things as athletes,” said Ms Carli, who represented Australia in the 400m hurdles.
“It’s going to be a game changer.”
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