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UK Sport to search Army ranks for Olympic medal hopefuls

By Tom Walker    13 Oct 2014
Royal Artillery captain Heather Stanning was the first Team GB athlete to win gold at London 2012 / UK Sport

UK Sport, the British Army and the English Institute of Sport (EIS) have launched a new talent partnership programme aimed at identifying future Olympic medallists from within the ranks of military personnel.

The £1.4m Army Elite Sports Programme (AESP) will reach out into the garrisons and units to identify men and women in targeted sporting disciplines who possess the potential to go all the way to the podium in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and beyond.

Talent scientists from the EIS will run assessments in the garrison towns nationwide and further afield in Germany and Cyprus. They will identify potential individuals who can be fast-tracked in to sports’ World Class Programmes.

The AESP will then ensure the selected athletes' military careers can develop in harmony with the demands of the training programmes and competition commitments.

There is a long history of military personnel becoming successful Olympians.

Double Olympic champion Kelly Holmes spent nine years in the army and served as a sergeant on the Adjutant General Corps, while Royal Artillery captain and rower Heather Stanning was the first Team GB athlete to win gold at London 2012.

Rod Carr, Chair of UK Sport, said: "The British Army has a rich tradition of supporting athletes and our experience tells us there will be personnel out there with the potential to be Olympic medallists but up until now they may not have had the opportunity to connect with the right sport or have the necessary support network to succeed.

"This initiative will provide them with a wonderful opportunity to access the world class support services which allow them to reach their full athletic potential."

It is thought that launching AESP six years ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will allow the time required to nurture and develop an Olympic hopeful into a medal contender.

The initiative is being part-funded by payments the British Army received for providing some of the security at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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