Sport Wales unveils new Elite Sport Strategy
Young talent to be identified up to 12 years before potential medal success.
· Wales to top the per capita medals table at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
· Welsh athletes to win 6-10 Olympic and 20-30 Paralympic medals over two cycles in 2020 and 2024.
· Welsh athletes to account for 10% of UK World Class programmes.
Identifying and nurturing the nation’s best young talent more than a decade before potential medal success is at the core of a new Elite Sport Strategy for Wales.
The greater talent focus and targeted initiatives to deliver systematic, long-term success across sports will be central to realising the nation’s potential on the world stage.
After a period of significant success for Wales and Welsh athletes, the focus for Sport Wales will be sustaining achievement at the very highest level.
Work and investment will be targeted on aspects including:
· Competition and development that young athletes need to succeed.
· Annual milestones to success for individual athletes.
· Better quality performance coaching.
· Ensuring access to world-class support services & facilities.
Sport Wales invests around £6million of Welsh Government and National Lottery funding in elite sport annually through governing bodies, as well as in sports science and medicine support at the Sport Wales Institute.
Sport Wales Director of Elite Sport, Brian Davies said:
“It has been a golden period for Welsh elite sport and the nation has been gripped by the performances of our world-class athletes. Our sportspeople have truly put Wales in the spotlight.
“These successes are down to hard work and dedication from athletes and the many people who have worked to get them where they are. But these victories are also down to a systematic approach to investment.
Young talent such as 16 year-old weightlifter Catrin Jones (gold medal Commonwealth Youth Games 2015) and recent European Youth Olympic Festival medallists Maisie Methuen (gymnastics) and Rebecca Sutton (swimming) are examples of athletes being developed through elite sport systems.
“Other nations are trying to copy us. They are looking to invest in the same way and prepare athletes in the same way. That’s why we have to be innovative and look deeper at our structures so that we’re producing quality athletes on a systematic basis. We cannot stand still and feel that the job is done, we have to constantly evolve and hone our approach to maximising the talent available to us.
“At a time when every penny invested needs to demonstrate maximum returns, this revised strategy ensures we continue to focus our investment to ensure delivery at the highest level of sport.”
The strategy includes new medal targets for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020 and 2024, and for Team Wales at Commonwealth Games in 2018 and 2022, as Sport Wales looks to sustain the success of Welsh athletes.
Welsh athletes won seven Olympic medals and 15 Paralympic medals at London 2012 and Team Wales finished top of the medals per capita table at Glasgow 2014 against all other major multi-medal winning nations.
As part of the new strategy, Sport Wales will work more closely with UK Sport and the home nations to sustain the podium prospects of Welsh athletes by aligning efforts to ensure stronger foundations across sports.
Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates commented:
“Wales already has an enviable and proud track record of success in elite sport. This revised strategy is designed to strengthen and enhance that reputation, going a step further to identify talented athletes who may not already know they could be the next Frankie Jones or Aled Davies.
“Our presence at the top of the medal tables and world rankings is a source of pride to many of us and an inspiration for future generations of talented athletes and coaches and community sports clubs the length and breadth of our nation. This strategy shows we are thinking about our future, as well as now, and creating the opportunities and foundations for continued sporting success.”