Some of the current GB Olympic Team made it to the top of their sport via a talent-spotting scheme pioneered by the East Germans during the Cold War.
Anna Hemmings, the two-time Olympic canoeist and multiple world marathon champion, met some of the original Talent Identification scheme athletes in 2007 and thought their Olympic ambitions were “massively unrealistic”.
Now, it seems, she’s changed her mind. Writing in her regular blogging column in Metro, Hemmings said: ”I remember meeting them and hearing about their Olympic ambitions. They had only been kayaking for 4 weeks and could barely stay upright. I didn’t say it but I thought it was massively unrealistic. 2016 Olympics maybe, but not 2012.”
Hemmings said she’d been proved wrong after seeing several of the athletes concerned making it into the London 2012 kayaking team.
She added: “It must have been demoralising at times. From over 11,000 applicants, Richard [Jeffries] and Angela [Hannah]are the only two left standing. The mental strength that has got these two incredibly talented athletes to this point is impressive.
“I didn’t believe it was achievable but it just goes to show that anything is possible if you’re just prepared to dare to dream big, believe in yourself and have a great team of people around you who also believe.”
Previous article: “Want to canoe? It’ll take 10,000 hours to become truly great. And a few swims.”
And don’t miss this one: Former canoeist and freelance journalist Ben Parfitt opines in the Independent on Talent ID schemes.