Youth Sport Trust National Talent Camp

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Oli Twigger and Ross Pratt attended this on behalf of the Club. Oli reports back

Although the event started on the Friday, we (Ross, myself and Lesley) wanted to avoid the early morning as much as possible so headed up North towards Loughborough after college on the Thursday. We met up with the Cornwall rider on the way up and went in convoy to the nearby Travel Lodge – many thanks to the club for supporting us with that. After a much needed sleep and hearty Costa breakfast, we set off for the actual university at a very leisurely 9am.

Before I start the summary I’ll explain a bit about the camp. It’s a four day event run by the Youth Sport Trust at Loughborough University. There were about 8 different sports represented there including Cycling, Tennis, Volleyball and Boccia. Inside those sports we were split into athletes, coaches and officials. Ross and I were both Officials. Inside those multiple groups we spent most of the weekend with your role – so officials in our case – but with people from all the different sports, although occasionally we were split into just cyclists. The main aim of the camp was to improve and learn new skills but also see the relationship between athlete, official and coach.

Upon arrival we signed up and were given some goodies including a jumper and several t-shirts – always a massive bonus – which would be our “uniform” for the next few days. This was then followed by trying to avoid the games of duck, duck goose and similar for the next hour although in about half an hour we were ‘persuaded to join in’ by one of the leaders, much to our joy.

After meeting my group of officials and our “teacher” (who was a high-up football referee) that I would be with for the next few days – Ross had a different group – we attended an opening ceremony. It was one of those typical, inspirational thing where it all starts with loud music and you have to shout “good morning” multiple times as you were too quiet and sleepy the first couple of times. We also had a couple of afternoon sessions on this Friday which were to do with our philosophy as an official. But as always the highlight was the food, an eat all you can of pasta bake and chocolate puddings.

We spent every night in a local premier inn with all the other cyclists. I ended up in a room with Ross and another guy called Euan who was a roadie from up North somewhere, but everywhere is north from Newton Abbot. It was already about 10pm by the time we got to the rooms each evening but we still managed to fit in TV time including Lord of the Rings one evening and multiple Family Guy episodes.

Our second day began with some yoga at 7am, way too early for teenagers! The main highlight of this day was a talk about “my chimp and me”. I’m sure some of you have heard of it before but it’s basically a theory that you have a chimp in your head which acts in different ways in different people. This idea was created by Dr Steve Peters who was an athletics athlete in his days but is now working with elite athletes and a lot with British Cycling. That was a rubbish explanation of it but I know there is a book you can buy on it by Dr Peters which looks pretty good.

On the following day we had a live lab in with a few Paralympians – one who got gold in Rio this year – who played boccia. If you haven’t heard of it, definitely watch it at the next Paralympics, I reckon it’s more intense than watching Jason Kenny race. I’m not that sure what the point of it was but it was definitely very interesting.

We also had a session with a few people with British Cycling in which we looked into the Philip Hindes crash restart from the 2012 Olympics. We then split into officials where after we asked a few questions to the British cycling man, we ended up playing some games.

All in all it was a good trip and very much worthwhile. Even though by the end I have had enough of being around people and missed my bike. Thanks you very much to the club for supporting Ross and me to attend the camp.

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