Start Programme

GB Rowing Team Start Programme
This ground-breaking talent identification programme was established in 2001 with funding from the Lottery Sports Fund with the aim to build the future of the GB Rowing Team by identifying and developing potential Olympians.  Start’s most recent successes have been at the London 2012 Olympic Games, with almost a third of the Team GB Rowers having come through the programme.  Start supported rowers came away with five golds and a bronze from Team GB’s most successful Olympic Regatta of all time:

Helen Glover Gold Women's Pair                                                                                   
Heather Stanning Gold Women's Pair
Anna Watkins Gold Women's Double
Alex Gregory Gold Men's Four
Kat Copeland Gold Lightweight Women's Double
Moe Sbihi Bronze Men's Eight


Start Projects
There are ten projects up and running, based in the following locations across the UK:

Bath
Nottingham
Cambridge/Ely
North East (Tees)
Glasgow
North West (Manchester)
Twickenham
Reading
Hartpury/Gloucester
Doncaster

GB Rowing Team employs a full time coach for each of these projects with the programme being managed by the Start Manager, Steve Gunn.  In certain circumstances, rowers who are not near one of these centres may be taken on as a “Satellite” athlete.

Each project is based at a club or university that has agreed to be its host location.  This means that the rowers on the Start Programme are members of the host clubs and are fully involved with the club’s activities.  This normally means rowing in club crews in local regattas as well being involved in the social aspect of the club.  The relationship that Start has with the host clubs is vital to the success of the programme and is valuable support to the Start Coaches and rowers.

The Programme
New recruits to the programme will be placed into their local project where they will be developed by the coach.  As part of the training programme, rowers are required to attend the Start Testing Camps which take place throughout the year, bringing together coaches and rowers from all projects.  Most of these camps are held at the National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham.

Since the programme’s inception, Start has fed an increasing number of rowers through to the senior squads.  In 2007 Annabel Vernon became the first World Champion for Start, taking Gold in the Women’s Quad.  The following year, at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, Start won their first ever Team GB medals.  These were:

Annabel Vernon: Silver Medallist in the Women’s Quad
Anna Watkins: Bronze Medallist in the Women’s Double

Start has continued to win medals at each World Championships.  In 2010, Helen Glover, recruited through the national Sporting Giants initiative, became a World Silver Medallist after just 3 years in the sport alongside pair’s partner Heather Stanning, also a graduate of the Start Programme.  In 2011, Start rowers won a number of medals at the World Championships in Slovenia including two Golds:

Anna Watkins: Women’s Double
Alex Gregory: Men’s Four

The success of Start rowers is a result of GB Rowing Team’s investment into the programme through its coaches and the support they receive.  However, rowers who achieve the greatest results are those who invest in themselves and the programme, through commitment, determination and a desire to achieve at the highest level.

Talent Identification 
In sport there are certain body types that favour different activities.  In rowing the methods of moving the boat favours the use of long levers of arms and legs to obtain maximum propulsion.  This is why many of the most successful rowers are tall and this is a particular attribute that Start is looking for as well as a combination of strength and endurance for the 6-7minute event.  Our minimum testing criteria is:

 

Start programme requirements
 

Testing information
We use a number of tests to determine whether candidates have potential or proved performance that means they can be trained in such a way that they could succeed at International level.  As the tests are designed to identify potential, previous experience of the tests is not required.  The tests carried out are:

• Anthropometric Tests: height, weight and armspan measurements.
• Strength Tests: we use a Concept II Dyno to measure leg press, arm press and arm pull to produce an overall picture of general body strength.
• Endurance Tests: using arm leg bicycles, the test is conducted by increasing the tempo each minute until the person cannot maintain the set tempo.  Tests involve some upper bodywork which is important for rowing.
The right physical characteristics are of course not the only factor that is needed to achieve that ultimate prize of an Olympic gold medal.  You also need commitment, the ability to train hard and the right mental attitude.  Even with all the physical capabilities described above if you don’t make the full commitment to training and make sacrifices where necessary then even the most talented person will not make it.
To register your interest in the Start Programme please click here or contact start@gbrowingteam.org.uk
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