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Wednesday 2
April 2014

8:30 9:30 Registration

Opening Session: Welcome Message / Keynote Lecture
9:30 9:45 Welcome Address
Mr. Khalid Abdullah Al-Sulaiteen, Chief Executive Officer, Aspire Zone.
Prof. Tim Cable, Director of Sport Science, Aspire Academy

9:45 10:30 Talent identification and development: Perspectives from the young athlete
Prof. Robert Malina (USA)

10:30 11:00 Coffee Break

Session 1: Physiology / Anthropometry
Chaired by: Prof. Tim Cable
11:00 11:40 The talent equilibrium: Finding balance between scientific prudence and strategic
Dr. Ross Tucker (SA)

11:40 12:20 Use of anthropometry in talent identification and development
Prof. Robert Malina (USA)

12:20 12:30 Questions & Answers

12:30 1:30 Lunch

Session 2: Skill Acquisition / Sports Psychology
Chaired by: Dr. Pitre Bourdon

1:30 2:00 Identifying and developing skill with the chance of an afternoon storm
Prof. Damian Farrow (AUS)

2:00 2:30 Social-psychological aspects of Talent Identification in Sport
Dr. Joe Baker (CAN)

2:30 3:00 Becoming skilled: The psychology of expert athletes
Prof. Mark Williams (UK)

3:00 3:10 Questions & Answers

3:10 3:30 Coffee Break

Session 3: Genetics Debate
Chaired by: Andrew Douglas
3:30 4:10 The use of genetics profiling for identifying sporting talent
Prof. Yannis Pitsiladis (UK)

4:10 4:50 Ethical aspects of genetic screening for talent identification
Prof. Mike McNamee (UK)

4:50 5:00 Questions & Answers

8:00 Conference Dinner

Thursday 3
April 2014

Session 4: TID Models from Across the Globe

Chaired by: Esa Peltola

9:00 9:25 Sifting the sands - Talent identification at Aspire Academy, Qatar.
Andrew Douglas (QAT)

9:25 9:50 To the London Olympics and beyond talent identification practices in the UK
Dr. Stewart Laing (UK)

9:50 10:15 Talent identification in South Australia. Challenges, interventions and successes
Dr. Annette Eastwood (AUS)

10:15-10:30 Questions & Answers

10:30 11:00 Coffee Break

11:00 11:25 Targeting Tokyo 2020 and beyond: The Japanese TID model
Dr. Taisuke Kinugasa (JPN)

11:25 11:50 Aiming for Talents A Talent ID Framework for Shooting
Kevin Wong (SIN)

11:50 12:15 Prospecting for Gold- a novel talent identification and development approach at the
Queensland Academy of Sport
Dr. Megan Mewing (AUS)

12:15-12:30 Questions & Answers

12:30 1:30 Lunch

Session 5: Young Investigator Award Presentations
Chaired by: Dr. Pitre Bourdon.
1:30 1:45 Lessons learnt from a national golf program: Performance testing considerations for talent
identification and development
Dr. Sam Robertson (AUS)

1:45 2:00 The family portrait as an indicator of sporting talent
Dr. Melissa Hopwood (AUS)

2:00 2:15 Talent - Croatian expert system for talent scouting in sport
Ante Burger (CRO)

2:15 2:30 Non-invasive talent ID by MRS-based estimation of muscle fiber type composition
Tine Bex (BEL)

2:30 2:45 From tank to track: Identifying Paralympic talent from injured members of the armed
Dr. Anthony Papathomas (UK)

2:45 3:00 Talent transfer into combat sports: Application of special forces selection methodology
Dr. Clare Humberstone (AUS)

3:00 3:10 Questions & Answers

3:10 3:30 Coffee Break

Closing Session Consensus Discussion

Chaired by: Prof Tim Cable

3:30 5:00 Group discussion working towards developing a consensus statement for sporting TID
Combination of speakers from all 5 sessions.


Prof. Robert Malina
Professor Emeritus
Robert M. Malina, FACSM, has earned doctoral degrees in physical education (University
of Wisconsin, Madison, 1963) and anthropology (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia,
1968), and honorary degrees (doctor honoris causa) from the Catholic University of
Leuven, Belgium (1989), Bronislaw Czech Academy of Physical Education, Krakow, Poland
(2001), University School of Physical Education, Wrocaw, Poland (2006), and University of
Coimbra, Portugal (2008).
He is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education of the
University of Texas at Austin, and Adjunct Research Professor at Tarleton State University,
Stephenville, Texas.
His primary area of interest is the biological growth and maturation of children and
adolescents with a major focus on youth sports in general and on young athletes. He has worked extensively with the growth
and maturation of youth in several sports including swimming, diving, gymnastics, track and field, American football and soccer
among others.

Dr. Ross Tucker
Exercise physiologist University of Cape Town

Dr Ross Tucker is an exercise physiologist with the University of Cape Town and Sports
Science Institute of South Africa. He currently researches the limits to elite exercise
performance, East African runners, barefoot running and the determinants (genetic and
training) of elite sporting performance.
He is an NRF-rated research scientist, who has also worked with sports teams and
athletes, including the South African Sevens Rugby team who won the IRB World Series
Title in 2008/2009.

Ross previously obtained a Post-Graduation diploma in Sports Management and worked
in sports sponsorship and marketing as a strategic consultant for three years. He now
consults widely on the application of sports science to strategies in high performance sport.

Prof. Damian Farrow
Professor of Sports Science, Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL)

Damian holds a joint appointment within the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living
at Victoria University, and the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) where he is responsible
for the provision of quality research and applied service for both institutions. Damian
completed his PhD in Sport Expertise at The University of Queensland (2001). He was
then appointed as the inaugural AIS Skill Acquisition Specialist (2002) and Head of
Psychology and Skill Acquisition (2009). Damian publishes and presents extensively on his
research interests, centered on understanding the factors critical to sport expertise and
talent/skill development, with a specific focus on perceptual and decision-making skill
and practice methodology. He is also an editor of the text Applied Sport Expertise and
co-author of three general interest sports science books Run Like You Stole Something,
Why Dick Fosbury Flopped and Its True: Sport Stinks.

Dr. Joe Baker
Head of the Lifespan Health and Performance Laboratory, York University,

Dr. Joseph (Joe) Baker received his PhD in Applied Exercise Science from Queen's
University (Canada). He is currently head of the Lifespan Health and Performance
Laboratory in the School of Kinesiology and Health Science, at York University, Canada.
Joe has held visiting researcher/professor positions at Leeds Metropolitan University in
the United Kingdom, Victoria University and the Australian Institute of Sport in Australia
and at Westflische Wilhelms-Universitt Mnster in Germany. His research considers the
varying influences on optimal human development, ranging from issues affecting athlete
development and skill acquisition to barriers and facilitators of successful aging. Joe is the
author/editor of 5 books and more than 100 peer reviewed articles and book chapters.
More information about his research can be found at www.yorku.ca/bakerj.

Prof. Mark Williams
Head of Sports Science at Brunel University, London

Mark Williams is Professor and Head of Sports Science at Brunel University, London. His
research and teaching interests focus on the psychology of expertise and its identification
and development. He has published over 150 peer-reviewed articles in journals in
exercise and sports science and in experimental psychology. He has written 13 books,
more than 60 book chapters, and over 60 professional articles. He has delivered more
than 200 keynote and invited lectures in upwards of 30 countries, across five different
continents. His research work has been funded by research councils such as the
Australian Research Council, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council,
Economic and Social Research Council and British Academy in the UK, commercial
companies such as Nike and Umbro, as well as sport associations such as the FA, UEFA,
FIFA, and UK Sport. He is actively involved in policy making for international associations
and National Governing Bodies of Sport and is currently a Special Advisor to the English
Institute of Sport.

Prof. Yannis Pitsiladis
Professor of Sport and Exercise Science, The Brighton Centre for Regenerative Medicine (BCRM)

Professor Pitsiladis has an established history of research into the importance of lifestyle
and genetics for human health and performance. Following 15 years at the University of
Glasgow (Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences) where he created the largest
known DNA biobank from world-class athletes, he was appointed Professor of Sport and
Exercise Science at the University of Brighton (School of Sport and Service Management).
Here he is in the process of establishing state-of-the-art laboratories in human systems
biology with special applications to sport and exercise science, sports medicine and
sports nutrition.

His current research priority is the application of OMICS (i.e. genomics,
transcriptomics, metabolomics and proteomics) to the detection of drugs in sport with particular reference to recombinant
human erythropoietin (rHuEpo) and growth hormone (rHuGH). His most recent research is funded by the World Anti-Doping
Agency (WADA), he has sat on two WADA committees and an expert group of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

He is a member of the scientific commission of the International Sports Medicine Federation (FIMS), a Fellow of the American
College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and an expert committee pool member of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences
Research Council (BBSRC). He is an adjunct Professor of Medical Physiology at the University of Technology (Kingston, Jamaica),
Moi University (Eldoret, Kenya) and Addis Ababa University (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia). He has published over 100 peer-reviewed
papers, written and edited a number of books and has featured in numerous research documentaries (e.g. BBC, NHK Japan,
CNBC) and popular books (e.g. Bounce, The Sports Gene).

Prof. Mike McNamee
Professor of Applied Ethics in the College of Engineering, Swansea University, UK

Mike McNamee is Professor of Applied Ethics in the College of Engineering, Swansea
University, UK. He has lectured and published widely in the philosophy and ethics of
medicine, research and sport. His edited/authored 15 books including Ethics and Sports
(1998); Philosophy and the Sciences of Exercise, Health and Sport (2006) Sports, Virtues
and Vices (2008); Sports Ethics: a reader (2010); Doping and Anti Doping Policy (2011);
Olympic, Ethics and Philosophy (2012); and Sport, Medicine, Ethics (2104). He is
Founding Editor of the international journal Sport, Ethics and Philosophy (2007+) and is
Series Editor of Routledges Ethics and Sports series that comprises more than twenty

He is former President of the International Association for the Philosophy of Sport, and Executive Committee member for the
European College of Sport Science, the International Council for Sport Science and Physical Education, and the Philosophy of
Education Society of Great Britain. His research has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK); the
Economic and Social Research Council (UK); and the European Commission. His most recent research interest is in the
governance of bioengineering in sports and sports medicine.

Andrew Douglas
Talent Identification Program Coordinator - ASPIRE Academy, Qatar.

Andrew Douglas, is an Honours graduate from Edith
Cowan University with a BAppSc (Sport Science) B.Sc. (Hons).

As an athlete, he was a national medallist and representative for Australia in Track
sprinting and after retiring from competitive sport, Andrew remained within the Sport
Industry as a coach and fitness adviser to some professional teams before specialising in
the area of Talent Identification. Working as a Physiologist at the Academy of Sport in
Canberra, he was also a pivotal member of the National Talent Search Program before
moving to the Australian Institute of Sport in 2005 and helping to initiate the newly
formed National Talent Identification & Development program. Andrew joined Aspire in
2008 as the Senior Talent Identification Officer and currently overseas the Academys
Talent Identification program.

Dr. Stewart Laing
Senior Lead Performance Pathway Scientist English Institute of Sport

Dr. Stewart Laing received his PhD from Bangor University whilst supporting Welsh
development athletes in canoeing and sailing. He is currently the Senior Lead
Performance Pathway Scientist with the English Institute of Sport and UK Sports
Performance Pathway Team. Stewart worked as a senior sports scientist for the British
Olympic Association providing athlete fitness testing, travel strategies, competition and
training advice and training periodisation recommendations for winter sports, and
worked at both Team GB preparation camps ahead of the 2008 Beijing and 2010
Vancouver Olympic Games.
Stewarts main focuses are in providing front line solutions which help to sharpen sports
approaches to accelerating athlete development, and increase knowledge and
understanding of highly functioning Performance Pathways inside and outside of sport. Stewart has been leading the team of
researchers who have undertaken the Training and Practice aspects of the Great British Medallists study for the last two and a
half years.

Dr. Annette Eastwood
Talent Search Coordinator / Sports Physiologist South Australian Sports Institute

Dr Annette Eastwood has been employed as Talent Search Coordinator / Sports
Physiologist at the South Australian Sports Institute (SASI) for almost 10 years. Annette is
responsible for managing the SASI Talent Search program which has identified a number
of Olympians and World Champions in the sports of cycling, canoeing, rowing and
volleyball. Annette is also responsible for providing sport science support to SASI
swimming and hockey programs.
Annette is originally from the UK and completed her undergraduate degree at the
University of Bath in England, during which time she completed a 12 month work
placement in Australia at the Queensland Academy of Sport, New South Wales Institute
of Sport and the Australian Institute of Sport. Annette completed her PhD in 2012
through Flinders University, South Australia. Her research involved investigating the stability and trainability of haemoglobin
mass and the potential use of haemoglobin mass for talent identification and anti-doping purposes.

Dr. Taisuke Kinugasa
Head of Talent ID Unit and Senior Sports Physiologist at Japan Sport Council

Dr. Taisuke Kinugasa is Head of Talent ID Unit and Senior Sports Physiologist at Japan
Sport Council. Dr Tai has been responsible for operating a National Talent Identification
and Development (NTID) project since 2012.
Dr. Tai gained extensive experiences working with youth athletes and Olympians at
Singapore Sports School and Singapore Sports Institute. He was integral to the success of
Singapore swimmers including Tao Li who became the first Singaporean to compete an
Olympic Games final, finishing 5th in the Womens 100m butterfly event at the 2008
Beijing Olympic Games.

Dr Tai obtained PhD in exercise physiology from The University of Queensland in 2004. He is currently a Research Associate with
Sports Performance Research Institute, New Zealand (SPRINZ) and a member of Japan Olympic Academy (JOA). His professional
interests include athlete development models using a biological approach and individualized monitoring of elite athletes using
single-subject research designs, and more.

Mr. Kevin Wong
Senior Talent Identification Specialist, Singapore Sports School

Mr Kevin Gerard Wong is Senior Talent Identification Specialist at Singapore Sports
School. He graduated from the University of Sydney, Australia with a Bachelor of Applied
Science (Ex. & Sp.Sc) (Hons) under the University of Sydney International Merit
Scholarship. He was part of the task force that oversaw the inception and development
of the Sports School in 2001 and the development of the sports curriculum for the
school. He established a framework for Singapore national talent identification

Dr. Megan Mewing
Sport Scientist Queensland Academy of Sport

Dr. Megan Mewing is a sport scientist at the Queensland Academy of Sport. Her role is to
oversee the Prospecting for Gold Project which aims to actively unearth athletes for the
Olympic Games using an individual case approach to talent identification. She previously
worked in the area of skill acquisition, advising coaches across many different sports
including field hockey, swimming, basketball, rowing, cycling, and water polo. Since
beginning as a sport science trainee at the Victorian Institute of Sport in 2002, she has
spent time at the Australian Institute of Sport, Melbourne Victory Football Club and has
also worked with Netball Australia. She completed her PhD on the topic of cognitive
effort in contextual interference and implicit motor learning under the guidance of Rich
Masters, Damian Farrow and Tony Morris in 2010 with the support of a PhD scholarship
from the Australian Institute of Sport.

Young Investigator Awards - Abstracts

Young Investigator 1:
Dr. Sam Robertson, Lecturer in Biomechanics, Deakin University

Lessons learnt from a national golf program: performance testing considerations for talent identification and development
Sam Robertson, PhD
Centre for Exercise and Sports Science, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University
High Performance Team,
Golf Australia

Aim: Performance tests are commonly used within talent identification (TID) and development (LTAD) programs (1, 2).
However, debate exists regarding their usefulness due to considerations relating to their design (3, 4), measurement properties
(5) and suitability for adolescent athletes (6, 7). A series of projects were undertaken utilising participants from the Australian
National Golf Squad. This research focused on:
a) Developing a performance testing battery to inform identification of talented junior Australian players,
b) Investigating the relationships between player results in this battery and their data obtained from actual tournament

Methods: A range of questions relevant to TID and LTAD were identified throughout the undertaking of this research, including:
a) When assessing adolescent athletes, what is the ideal number of trials required in order to obtain a true indication of their
b) How can the ecological validity of performance tests be optimised, without experiencing subsequent reductions in test-retest
c) Can a test be designed that is able to accurately predict future athlete performance?

Results: Seven publications resulted from these projects; based on this work proposed solutions to the questions stated above
are provided:
a) Monte Carlo simulation techniques are a novel method of modelling repeated test performance a priori. Even when
implementing familiarisation procedures, more than 5 repeated trials may be needed when testing adolescents in order to
obtain indicative performance (1, 8). This is recommended in order to avoid athlete non- or de-selection errors (5).
b) By designing tests that i) replicate conditions experienced in competition and ii) utilise contextual interference, predictive
validity can be optimised (9, 10). This allows for a test to be used to improve practice specificity and monitor longitudinal player
c) Utilising non-linear statistical learning techniques such as decision trees allows for relationships between testing and athlete
performance to be better understood (10). Decision tree output has the advantage of being easy to interpret by players and

Conclusions: The challenges discussed are relevant for those designing or adapting performance tests in structured TID and
LTAD programs. However through adoption of the methodologies presented here, these challenges can be largely overcome.

1. Robertson SJ et al. European Journal of Sport Science, 2013.
2. Gabbett TJ et al. International Journal of Sports Physiology & Performance, 2006.
3. Vilar L et al. Journal of Sports Sciences, 2012.
4. Kingsley M et al. Journal of Sports Sciences, 2012.
5. Robertson SJ et al. Sports Medicine, 2013.
6. Gulbin JP et al. Journal of Sports Sciences, 2013.
7. Lidor R et al. International Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 2009.
8. Robertson SJ et al. Journal of Sports Sciences, 2012.
9. Robertson SJ et al. Journal of Sports Sciences, 2014
10. Robertson SJ et al. European Journal of Sport Science, 2014.

Young Investigator 2:
Dr. Melissa Hopwood, National Pathway Manager, Australian Canoeing

The family portrait as an indicator of sporting talent
Melissa J. Hopwood
, Clare MacMahon
, Damian Farrow
, Joseph Baker

Australian Canoeing, Sydney, Australia
Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia
Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia
Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, Australia
York University,
Toronto, Canada

Sporting talent is commonly assessed through objective measures such as test results and competition performance, as well as
subjective judgements from coaches and talent scouts; however, contextual factors beyond the sporting field should not be
ignored in the talent identification process. The family has long been considered an important source of support for athletes as
they progress along the pathway toward sport expertise, yet recent evidence suggests the family may also be a valuable
indicator of sporting talent.

Aim: To explore associations between sporting achievement, family demographics, and familial involvement in sport and
physical activity.

Method: Family demographics and details of familial involvement in sport and physical activity were collected from a mixed
sample of 229 athletes. Athletes were male and female, Australian and Canadian, and participated in 36 sports. Based on
highest level of competition reached, athletes were classified into three skill groups (elite, pre-elite, and non-elite) and
comparative analyses of familial characteristics were performed.

Results: A number of skill level differences with implications for talent identification were observed. Parents of elite athletes
were more highly educated than parents of non-elite athletes, and elite athletes were more likely to be later born children. Both
parents and siblings of elite athletes participated in physical activity more regularly than parents and siblings of non-elite
athletes, and were also more likely to have participated in competitive sport at the elite level themselves, although not
necessarily in the same sport as the athlete.

Conclusions: Along with the numerous high profile examples of successful sporting families, these results indicate that family
demographics and involvement in sport and physical activity may be important indicators of sporting talent. Therefore, this
research has practical implications for talent identification methodologies and recruitment strategies. Practitioners are
encouraged to consider family demographics and sporting backgrounds within talent identification test batteries and screening
procedures, and may even wish to target later-born children in sporting families for talent identification initiatives.

Young Investigator 3:
Ante Burger, PhD Student

Talent - Croatian expert system for talent scouting in sport
Ante Burger, B.A., Croatian Handball Association, Josefina Jukid, B.A., Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Split, Marijana avala,
PhD, Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Split, eljko Kovaevid, M.S., Medical faculty, University of Split, Nenad Rogulj, PhD,
Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Split

Introduction Aim:
Selecting children for appropriate sport is the most demanding and the most responsible task for sport experts and kinesiology
in general. Due to the importance of the objective selection of children for a particular sport, the only expert system for
recognition of sport talents in Croatia TALENT has been developed within the project Talent scouting in sport at the
University of Split since 2008. The project outcome was the creation of a system that is able to give reliable quantitative
estimation of potential effectiveness of an individual for various sports.

Based on the knowledge of 107 excellent sport experts, various motor skills tests, morphological characteristics measurements
and functional tests are quantized according to their importance for a chosen set of 15 different sports. The obtained values
entered the knowledge database along with the grades of the measured results for each test. Fuzzy logic is implemented in
order to make the system more flexible and robust. The whole system is web-oriented, i.e. developed ASP.NET application is
available to the Internet users with a proper login and password. The developed expert system gives reliable prediction and
proposal for the most suitable sports for the person tested.
With the purpose of establishing normative values of anthropological features in children in Split region, which are the basis of
the expert system, we conducted a number of preliminary researches to analyse their motor, morphological and functional
This research analyses the level of six basic motor abilities (speed, explosive power, coordination, agility, flexibility and
equilibrium) and determined appropriate normative values. The research was done on the sample of 328 boys aged 7-9. We
calculated the average results value and relative development index of the motor abilities obtained as the relation between the
partial and summed up standardized values (rm).

ability Mean age 7 Mean age 8 Mean age 9 Mean age 10 rm
Explosive power
(long jump from a
123,42 126,12 132,13 141,97 ,124
speed (sprint 20 m) 4,93 4,88 4,57 4,45 ,126
agility (Japan test) 22,03 20,77 19,45 19,17 ,125
37,91 39,71 41,07 43,72 ,123
(training site)
11,78 10,78 9,86 9,54 ,125
(standing on the
3,28 3,48 5,25 5,87 ,128

The table reveals recognizable even structure of the development of motor abilities with equilibrium and speed slightly
domineering. The obtained results show that children from the Split region have equally developed motor abilities, which are
good preconditions for efficiency in various sports. A slight domination of equilibrium and speed reveals greater predisposition
in children from this area for sport activities requiring a high level of speed, agility and equilibrium, such as sport games and
anaerobic cyclical activities.

Young Investigator 4:
Tine Bex, PhD Student

Non-invasive talent ID by MRS-based estimation of muscle fiber type composition
Bex, T., Baguet, A., Derave, W.
Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, GHENT University (Ghent, Belgium)

Aim: There is a continuing research interest in the relationship between muscle fiber type composition (MFTC) and the optimal
discipline (e.g. running distance) in athletes. Until now, MFTC is not routinely measured in sports practice, probably because the
gold standard to MFTC is by means of a muscle biopsy. We recently developed (Baguet et al., 2011) a new non-invasive
method to estimate MFTC, based on proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (
H-MRS) measurement of muscle carnosine.
Carnosine is a dipeptide typically present in FT fibers and only to a lesser extent in ST fibers. Therefore, muscle carnosine
content is positively related to the percentage of fast fibers in that muscle. The aim of this study is to investigate in which
athlete populations this new method for measuring MFTC can be used for talent identification.

Methods: 65 Belgian elite athletes (47 track-and-field athletes, 7 triathletes, 11 swimmers) and 170 control subjects were
recruited to measure muscle carnosine content in gastrocnemius medialis muscle by
H-MRS. The control subjects were used as
sex-specific reference population and all values were expressed as Z-scores.

Results: The Z-scores of the different athletes are represented in figure 1. In track-and-field, the short distance runners
(sprinters) had a Z-score of 1.76, the middle distance runners had -0.30 and the long distance runners -1.34. The Z-score of the
triathletes was -1.07. In the short, middle and long distance swimmers we found a z-score of 0.81, 0.17 and -1.59, respectively.

Conclusions: Muscle carnosine content as indirect estimation of MFTC shows a good reflection of the successful disciplines of
elite athletes in different sports and is able to distinguish between individual running or swimming distances. So this innovative
method may have exciting applications in non-invasive talent identification and sport (re)orientation in athletics, triathlon,
swimming, as well as a number of other sports.

References; Baguet A, Everaert I, Hespel P, Petrovic M, Achten E, Derave W. A New Method for Non-Invasive Estimation of
Human Muscle Fiber Type Composition. PLoS One 6: 6,2011.

Fig 1: Z-scores of carnosine content in the gastrocnemius muscle in the different athlete populations
-4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4
Z-score gastrocnemius

Young Investigator 5:
Dr. Anthony Papathomas, Research Associate in Sport Psychology & Disability Sport

From Tank to Track:
Identifying Paralympic Talent from Injured Members of the Armed Forces

Anthony Papathomas, Brett Smith, Vicky Tolfrey
Loughborough University, Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport,
School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences.

Aim: Based on physiological and psychological profiling, injured soldiers represent a potentially talent rich population for
Paralympic selectors in Great Britain. However, although many newly disabled soldiers enter the competitive sport arena, very
few make the successful transition into elite sport. This in-depth qualitative study explored the psychosocial factors associated
with those who made the grade and those who did not.
Methods: Interactive semi-structured interviews were conducted with 6 injured soldiers who had either successfully
transitioned into Paralympic Sport or who had withdrawn from sport having previously been identified as talented. Participants
were encouraged to reflect on their personal transitional experiences. All interviews were digitally recorded and fully
transcribed. Data was subject to a rigorous thematic-analysis.
Results: Analysis of the interview data revealed four broad themes determined the quality of participants transitional
experiences: a.) Pre-injury sporting experiences b.) Time since injury c.) Perceived distinctions between military and athlete life
d.) Perceived similarities between military and athlete life. Each of these themes impacted participants capacity to fulfil
Paralympic potential in both positive and negative ways.
Conclusions: The transition from sudden, life-changing injury to elite Paralympic athlete is a deeply idiosyncratic experience.
Talent selectors should invest in understanding the psychosocial histories of injured soldiers who are under consideration for
talent development programmes. Psychological readiness at point of entry into competitive sport may have critical
consequences for the quality of the transition experience and the level of success achieved.

Young Investigator 6:
Dr. Clare Humberstone, Senior Physiologist, Australian Institute of Sport

Talent transfer into combat sports:
Application of special forces selection methodology
Clare Humberstone
, Richard Nicholson
, Juanita Weissensteiner
, Morag Croser

Rob Medlicott
, Steve Bingley
, Paul Cale
, David T. Martin
Australian Institute of Sport, Department of Physiology, Canberra ACT;
Australian Institute of Sport, Athlete Pathways and
Development, Canberra ACT;
Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, Canberra ACT;
Veterans Sports Association, Sydney,
Design and implement a talent transfer program for boxing and judo based on physiological, psychological and skill aptitudes
important for success.

Talent transfer programs primarily based on anthropometric and physiological attributes have been criticised for not including a
psychological dimension (MacNamara and Collins, 2011). However, accepted methodology for quantifying skill aptitudes (e.g.
ability to respond to opponents movements, rate of learning) and psychological characteristics (e.g. motivation and hardiness)
important for success in combat sports is not established. In the military, candidates who complete Special Forces selection
courses have been shown to be intrinsically motivated and hardy (Maddi, 2007). Thus, Special Forces selection methodology
may represent a practical approach for revealing desired psychological characteristics in athletes. A two-phase talent transfer
program was designed that included: I) regional fitness testing (vertical jump, 60sec pushups, beep test, 20m sprint), and II)
centralised selection camp featuring sport-specific challenges and a special forces selection course designed to reveal relevant
skills and desired psychological characteristics. A combat fitness performance index was created based on a Z-score conversion
of Phase I test results that were combined for an overall score.

163 athletes were tested in Phase I, of which 37 were invited to participate in Phase II. Coaches and sport science staff
ultimately selected 12 athletes (7M; 5F) to participate in regionally-based fast-track development programs based on their
observations of athletes combined physical, psychological and skill competencies. Interestingly, there were no significant
differences in combat fitness performance index between Selected (M: 0.220.7, F: 0.380.8) and Non-Selected athletes who
participated in Phase II (M: -0.180.7, F: -0.210.5; p=0.25 and p=0.18 for M and F, respectively).

These data indicate that National Team coaches and scientists selected athletes into the boxing and judo fast-track
development programs based on more than just fitness. Selection methodology used by special forces can be modified and
implemented into talent transfer evaluation to facilitate valuable insight into psychological characteristics and skill aptitudes
important for sporting success. Future reflections on the successful or non-successful progression of the 12 selected athletes will
reveal the true value of the selection program undertaken.

MacNamara, A. and Collins, D (2011). Comment on Talent Identification and promotion programmes of Olympic athletes.
Journal of Sports Sciences, 29 (12), 1353-1356.
Maddi, S.R. (2007). Relevance of Hardiness Assessment and Training to the Military Context. Military Psychology, 19(1), 61-70.