Sport Taekwondo UK have marked the 500 day countdown to the London 2012 Games with the launch of a new development initiative, aimed at sustaining Britain’s emergence as one of the world’s leading Taekwondo nations. A partnership with Sport England will see immediate investment into creating a junior pathway within the sport and programmes aimed at identifying and developing talented young athletes into GB Taekwondo stars of the future.
The England Junior Development Programme will target those emerging junior and cadet athletes across the country who are showing considerable potential and through a series of residential camps, delivered by GB Taekwondo’s high performance coaches and support staff, establish a new generation of young talent for the sport, underpinning established world class athletes such as Sarah Stevenson, Bianca Walkden and Aaron Cook.
Gary Hall, Performance Director for GB Taekwondo said: “Whilst our elite athletes are currently performing very well on the international stage and making solid progress towards London 2012, as demonstrated again last weekend in Germany, we recognise the need to continue to invest in young talent and to provide them with a clear and achievable route to our GB Academy. In many ways this initiative with Sport England highlights our determination to ensure that the Games delivers a legacy for Taekwondo long after next summer has come and gone.
The England Junior Development Programme will enable us to bring together the most talented young players from across the country and to have them trained and developed by our world class coaching staff. Those with genuine potential will be invited to join our first ever ‘homestay’ programme later in the year during which we will be able to balance the athletes’ educational needs with the ability to provide them with full time coaching and support services. We think it’s a groundbreaking new development programme for the sport and one which will enable us to grow the talent pool for future major championships and Olympic Games.”
Lisa O’Keefe, Sport England’s Director of Sport, said: “This is a terrific opportunity to get onto a fast track development programme in one of the country’s most exciting Olympic sports. Sport Taekwondo UK has a proven track record in helping young athletes realise their potential rapidly, so you could find yourself training alongside – and learning from – the likes of Aaron Cook and Sarah Stevenson within a very short time.”
Current World No. 1 and European Champion Aaron Cook joined the GB Taekwondo Academy at age 15. Recognising the benefits of identifying and developing young talent at an early age, he said: “This is a great opportunity for all aspiring juniors who believe and can demonstrate that they have the skills to succeed at the very top of our sport. To be given the chance to receive elite coaching as well as the very best sport science support is going to be a great opportunity for so many young athletes and is sure to help them when they compete in future international competitions.”
The England Junior Development Programme is targeting talented young male and female athletes aged between 14 – 17 years old and applications to join the programme are being accepted from athletes across England.