30 June 2011

IOC guidelines on blog and twitter during London 2012

Olympics chiefs approve Twitter use at London 2012@BBC

Competitors may write only "first-person, diary-type" entries but should not act as reporters, International Olympic Committee (IOC) guidelines say.

All social media activity must respect the Olympic Charter, which bans political demonstrations.

Postings deemed to be for commercial purposes will not be permitted.

The guidelines, which were highlighted by the Australian Olympic Committee on Monday after initially being published on the IOC website, explain that the IOC "actively encourages and supports athletes... to take part in 'social media' and to post, blog and tweet their experiences".

But the IOC cautioned that the accreditations of "any organisation or person... may be withdrawn without notice" if its guidelines are breached.

Athletes will be able to upload still photographs taken at venues - a practice which was mostly banned in Beijing in 2008 - but will not be allowed to sell or distribute them for other purposes.

The broadcast of video and audio taken inside Olympic venues will be banned but athletes may post videos taken elsewhere.

Athletes will not be able to use the official Olympics symbol, and any reference to the word "Olympic" must be factual and "not associated with any third party or any third party's products or services".

Internet domain names and URLs including the word "Olympic" or "Olympics" will not be allowed either, unless approved by the IOC.

The perils of Twitter postings made headlines in June when there was a very public disagreement between triple-jump world champion Phillips Idowu and the head of UK Athletics, Charles van Commenee.

Idowu angered Van Commenee by using the micro-blogging site to reveal he was pulling out of the European Team Championships.

Van Commenee responded by saying that "these things are done personally, there are certain channels you have to follow".

customised training programme for selected Singapore Sports School athletes

Target: World's Top 100@straits times

A SELECT group of student-athletes at the Singapore Sports School (SSP) will be put on a customised training programme aimed at moulding them into being among the world's best.

For these athletes, just donning national colours will not be enough.

'This project hopes to see its student-athletes reach top-100 world ranking standards from 2015,' said SSP principal Deborah Tan yesterday when announcing the School Within A School programme.

'While we continue to be a major pipeline for the Singapore national team... our school has yet to produce players that can achieve significant breakthroughs in the open category on the international stage.'

For now, SSP's tie-up is with the Singapore Badminton Association, Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) and the Singapore Golf Association.

Eighteen students from these three National Sports Associations are on the programme.

'We're going with a modest start for now,' said Tan. 'If the programme holds up very well, there's no reason not to include more talented student-athletes into it.'

She added that the SSP is also looking at introducing other sports to the programme.

Funding for the programme will come from the $35 million EW Barker Endowment awarded to the SSP last year.

Training for this elite group will last longer than usual and will take place in the day, with schoolwork at night.

They will also get a team of coaches, sparring partners and teachers. There will just be three to five students in a class. The usual class size in the SSP is about 25.

These athletes' academic and sporting performances will be key to their continued stay in the programme.

For shuttler Fiona Seah, the biggest adjustment will not be the training but the night classes.

Said the 16-year-old: 'Training will probably be tougher, but it's going for lessons at night that I will have to get used to.'

Echoing this view, paddler Darren Loy said: 'It'll be tough to go for lessons after a whole day of intensive training.'

The 13-year-old has the full backing of parents Loy Soo Han and Jing Junhong - both former national paddlers.

Jing, who is also deputy head coach for the national women's table tennis team, said: 'As a parent, I also have my concerns about academics. But it's about quality, not quantity.

'It's even better now as you have a teacher to concentrate on just a few students.'

26 June 2011

Singapore as a swimming training base

Top swimmers to train in S'pore@straits times

A star-studded cast of the world's top swimmers, such as Olympic gold medallists Stephanie Rice and Alain Bernard, are scheduled to arrive in Singapore ahead of next month's World Swimming Championships in Shanghai.

Eighteen countries, including swimming powerhouse Australia, France, South Africa and Canada, will conduct their pre-competition training camps here to adapt to the regional climate and adjust to the time zone.

Spearheading the Australian squad who will be training at the Toa Payoh swimming complex is Rice. The 22-year-old holds the world record for the 400m individual medley and won three gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

She will be accompanied by breaststroke specialist Leisel Jones, who won the 100m in Beijing. There is also Alicia Coutts, who clocked the fastest 100m fly time in the world this season in 57.25sec. Coutts will likely compete against local swim queen Tao Li in Shanghai.

The Australians, who will arrive in the middle of next month, have the largest squad with about 45 athletes.

Another notable mention is Frenchman Bernard, 28, who was once the world's fastest man over the 50m and 100m freestyle.

Using Singapore as a training base is nothing new. Many countries had picked the Republic as a training and acclimatisation base ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, among them Canada, Japan and the United States.

An official who was involved in organising the Beijing training stint said: 'The United States' swimming camp in 2008 was very successful. I think that opened the way for more countries to come here.'

15 June 2011

Sport England project Sportivate: to engage youth to sport

Sport England launches £32 million project to get young people into sport as part of Olympic legacy push@inside the games

June 14 - Sport England has today launched a £32 million ($52 million) National Lottery-funded project to get hundreds of thousands of teenagers and young adults into sport as part of a new programme aiming to fulfil the legacy promise made by London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe to "inspire young people to choose sport".

The new project called Sportivate will give 14-to-25-year-olds who aren't currently playing sport in their own time the chance to receive six to eight weeks of coaching in a sport of their choice.

As part of the Places People Play mass participation legacy programme, Sportivate is aiming to see 300,000 teenagers and young adults completing sports courses over the next four years.

"Lots of young people think sport isn't for them," said Sport England chief executive Jennie Price.

"I would like them to have the chance to discover whether there is a sport they really enjoy, so this programme is all about choice.

"Everyone who takes part will receive high quality coaching - giving them the confidence and skills that will make them want to keep playing in the future."

Sportivate will be delivered by the network of 49 county sports partnerships who will work with local providers and sports clubs to help the youngsters continue taking part long after they have completed their course.

To help inspire and motivate the participants, Sporting Champions - a team of current and retired elite athletes - will visit Sportivate sessions to share their experiences and enthusiasm for sport.

Sport and the Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson said: "This £32 million ($52 million) Lottery programme launched by Sport England will give hundreds of thousands of teenagers and young adults across the country the opportunity to try out and get coached in the sport of their choice.

"I'm sure these same young people will also be inspired when the world's greatest athletes compete here at next summer's Olympic and Paralympic Games and will then want to stay involved in sport for many years to come."

The move was also backed by London 2012 hopeful Zoe Smith (pictured) who became the youngest ever weightlifting Commonwealth medallist when she won bronze at the 2010 Delhi Games at the age of 16.

"Getting the chance to get out and try a new sport is fantastic," she said.

"I didn't take up my sport until I was 12 so it just shows if you're up for some fun and trying something new, you can find a sport you really want to stick with."

As an additional incentive, teenagers and young adults who stick with sport will have the chance to enter a ballot for free London 2012 tickets.

Sport England has hundreds of Olympic and Paralympic tickets available for Sportivate participants via the London 2012 Ticketshare initiative.

In order to be eligible for London 2012 Ticketshare, participants will need to complete the sports course, missing no more than one session, and then continue to participate in sport for at least three months.

Sportivate is an inclusive programme that will create opportunities for disabled and non-disabled participants, while courses on offer include eight-week beginners' judo tuition in Lincoln, mixed tennis sessions for 17-to-24-year-olds in Newcastle upon Tyne and a parkour introductory course at Waveney in Suffolk.

In total, Sport England will invest £8 million ($13 million) of National Lottery funding per year over the next four years into Sportivate.

09 June 2011

World Class Performance Conference to be held in November 2011

World Class Performance Conference set to ExCel in London@UK Sport

UK Sport has today announced that the 2011 World Class Performance Conference will be held in the heart of east London, home to the London 2012 Olympic Park, at ExCel London in the Royal Docks.

Taking place in London for the first time, the Conference will run from Monday 14 to Wednesday 16 November, and provide the final opportunity for the entire high performance Olympic and Paralympic community to unite ahead of London 2012. Fittingly, ExCel London will be an Olympic venue when the Games get underway in 416 days time, hosting seven Olympic and six Paralympic events, including Taekwondo, Judo, Boccia, Table Tennis, Fencing, Sitting Volleyball and Boxing.

Since its inception in 2001, the World Class Performance Conference has become the key event in the diaries of coaches, performance directors and sports science and medicine practitioners, as the one opportunity every year for the entire Olympic and Paralympic high performance community to come together to network, debate and share best practice. The aim is to equip these individuals with the skills and knowledge to make sustainable improvements to their sport’s World Class Performance Programme.

Looking ahead to the critical period leading up to the Games, as well as British prospects beyond 2012 at Glasgow and Sochi in 2014 and Rio in 2016, the Conference this year will explore the theme of ‘Aspiration’. Following previous Conference themes of ‘Teamship’ (2009) and ‘Courage’ (2010), this year’s event will focus on the immediate aspirations for success next summer, as well as the aspiration to generate a high performance legacy that goes far beyond the impending milestone of London 2012.

Sam Whale, Coaching Team Co-ordinator, said: “The Conference is a key development opportunity for the people who are driving the performances of British athletes forward on a day to day basis. Following the Beijing Games in 2008, we have designed each of the Conferences that have followed with London 2012 in mind, and this will complete the journey, offering a chance for collaboration, as well as sharing challenges and best practice, heading into the Games next year.”

Peter Keen, Director of Performance, said: “The Conference is now in its 11th consecutive year, having become an important annual event in British high performance sport. This year, more than most, is significant given that come November we will be a little over eight months from the London start line.

“Our theme of aspiration reflects the short term hopes and ambitions we share for 2012, as well as the unique opportunity that hosting the Games presents towards driving long term success in British sport.

“I am very much looking forward to bringing all our Performance Directors, Coaches and key support staff together at Excel London, right at the heart of where our home Games will take place.”

06 June 2011

UK Sport’s Research & Innovation on skill acquisition

Funding opportunity for research into 'skill learning and retention' in elite athletes@UK Sport

UK Sport’s Research & Innovation team, along with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) are seeking research applicants who could potentially benefit elite athletes as part of the legacy following the London 2012 Games.

BBSRC, the UK's leading funding agency for academic research and training in the non-clinical life sciences, and UK Sport are keen to explore the understanding of the biological and psychological basis of skill learning and retention, with the ultimate aim of improved maintenance of an individual's skills base and improved training methodologies for elite athletes.

UK Sport’s Head of Research and Innovation, Dr Scott Drawer, said: “Elite athletes need to maintain a wide range of skills, and have the ability to acquire new ones during the course of their career. Understanding how elite athletes are able acquire and retain their skills will inform on the broader population as it faces the prospect of longer working lives and the continued introduction of new technologies within the home, work, and wider environments.”

Applicants are asked to consider one or more of the following challenges in their proposal, which must be submitted to BBSRC by 10 August:

How does cognitive capability interact with the social and physical environment to influence the development of skill and expertise, and are there markers for skill acquisition?
What cognitive and psychological factors facilitate an individual's ability to maintain a high level of performance, and what affects an individual's resilience?
How do we optimise the retention, as well as the learning and retraining of skills by an individual to maximise the performance and flexibility of their skill base?
To promote a multidisciplinary approach, ESRC has agreed to provide co-funding for suitable applications which fall partially within its remit.