More than 70 up and coming Isle of Man athletes attended an inspiration-packed evening at the first event of the Isle of Man Sport Aid Academy’s third year on Friday evening.
The first session of the new year, which was held at St Ninian’s Lower school, focussed on setting the scene for the programme, looking at the challenges the young sportspeople may face during their sporting careers and discussing the attributes they need to develop in order to succeed.
Visually impaired Paralympian swimmer and cyclist Ian Sharpe, Commonwealth Games cyclist Andrew Roche and Olympic cyclist Marie Morgan were guest speakers, each telling the story of their success, including the challenges they faced, to inspire the young athletes who are just starting their careers.
It was a demanding weekend with a follow-up session taking place on Sunday morning as well.
The Sport Aid Academy, a partnership between Isle of Man Sport and sponsors SMP Partners and Newfield, aims to equip Island sportspeople aged 13 to 17 with the support, skills and knowledge to work towards becoming elite athletes. The course is designed as a precursor to the support and funding of the Isle of Man Sport Foundation.
Mark Denton, Managing Director of SMP Partners, opened the session and welcomed the new intake.
Mark said: ‘It was an honour to welcome the new students to the Academy and it gave me an opportunity to impress upon them how much they can benefit from the syllabus prepared by Isle of Man Sport. The precedent for great guest speakers was set and I’m sure the young athletes will learn from much from the experts lined up for the rest of the year.
‘The first two years of the Academy were extremely successful and it’s been rewarding to see how many athletes on the programme have gone on to represent the Island in the UK and internationally, including at the Island Games and Commonwealth Youth Games.’
Mark Reynolds, a Director at Newfield, added: ‘We’re delighted to be part of the Academy as it supports our young athletes at the start of their sporting journey. The skills, knowledge and understanding of themselves won’t just help towards reaching their sporting potential but will have a massive benefit in whatever career they choose.
‘This year’s curriculum looks brilliant and there is so much our athletes can take away. With such a high level of speakers and mentors for the next seven sessions we’re sure the workshops will be of massive inspiration to our budding sports stars.’
Isle of Man Sport Aid Sports Performance Co-ordinator Chris Quine concluded: ‘The session on Friday was a fantastic way to start the new year and we’re enthusiastic about the syllabus we’ve put together for our 76 up and coming Manx athletes.
‘Sport on the Isle of Man is really competitive, with very high standards of athletes who are representing the Island on the international stage. It is essential to give our young athletes that extra level of support to equip them with the tools to get to help them meet their goals.’
The next workshops take place on Friday 29th September and Sunday 1st October when the theme will be the rocky road to success and developing your personal survival kit.
Photo - Ian Sharpe sharing his experiences with the athletes.