Double cycling world champion Victoria Pendleton has been drafted in to help spearhead a drive to find more elite British female athletes. The Girls4Gold initiative, lead by UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport (EIS), aims to uncover hidden talent with the potential to win medals at London 2012 and beyond.
The strategy involves boosting Britain’s overall talent pool by embracing sports where female athletes have a real chance of medal success: cycling, canoeing, rowing, sailing, modern pentathlon and the winter sport of bob skeleton.
Athletic women aged 17-25, who have competed at county level or above in any sport, are being invited to apply at www.uksport.gov.uk/girls4gold. Successful girls will be invited to Olympic Talent Assessment events over the summer to identify those individuals who have a higher probability of podium success. The EIS talent identification scientists will then work closely with elite coaches from the beneficiary sports, to provide the short listed athletes with the opportunity to discover their potential in a world class training environment.
The female-specific campaign builds on the huge success of ‘Sporting Giants’, which attracted over 3,800 applicants, but with a female to male ratio of 1:4. ‘Girls4Gold’ comes at a time when British Cycling and the other targeted governing bodies are looking to enhance their squads and help fill some of the talent gaps within specific disciplines in their sports.
Pendleton, a strong medal contender in Beijing and one of the heroines of the recent UCI World Track Cycling Championships in Manchester, winning two golds and a silver medal, has welcomed the initiative:
“It will be fantastic to recruit more girls to try out for cycling and the other Olympic sports. I’m confident we will find some outstanding hidden talent to join us in the team for 2012. I just hope we don’t find anyone better than me!
“’Girls4Gold’ is a great initiative that has the potential to unearth future Olympians, and I know firsthand the rewards and satisfaction that competing at the top of your game can bring. You’d be mad not to give it a shot – who knows how good you might become?”