Bendigo athletes can try out for draft
AUSTRALIAN Institute of Sport officials are coming to Bendigo in search of athletes with the untapped potential to become Olympic judo champions.
Senior sports scientist David Martin and his team are scouring the country for fit, strong males and females aged 15 to 27 who excel in other sports but are interested in judo, or who dream of reaching the elite level but are struggling to do so in their current field.
"We are saying keep the dream, just try a different outlet," Dr Martin said, ahead of the AIS Sports Draft in Bendigo on November 2.
The draft aims to increase Australia's international success in combat sports.
During the initial phase, participants will undergo a battery of physical tests (including push-ups, beep challenge, vertical leap and medicine ball throw) to assess their suitability.
Those who show promise will be invited to a five-day camp at the AIS in Canberra for more tests, training and evaluation by world-class coaches and sports scientists.
Successful athletes will receive funded training and equipment for 12 months under the guidance of nationally accredited coaches, with the aim of fast-tracking them into elite judo competitions.
Draftees will be based in their own city but will attend high-performance sessions at the AIS during the year.
Screenings are being held in eight Australian cities over coming weeks and Bendigo is one of only two regional centres involved. It was chosen because judo coach Ben Donegan, who was hand-picked to oversee the development of drafted athletes in the region, lives here.
Dr Martin said many talented youngsters started out playing sports like AFL, rugby or netball but through injury, physical development or many other reasons never made it to the top of their game.
This could be their chance to transfer from a popular Australian sport into an Olympic sport, he said.
"We are looking for individuals who keep themselves really fit, have good core and body strength and are excited about taking on a new and novel challenge. They don't need to have any prior judo experience or training whatsoever, but want to try something else."
Dr Martin said of the top 10 countries on the London Olympics medal table, Australia was the only one not to win a combat sport medal. He said a quarter of all Olympic medals up for grabs were for combat sport and Australia was keen to share the spoils.
The AIS is conducting a similar draft for boxing, but not in Bendigo.
Athletes interested in taking part in the local judo screening process must register online before 5pm on Friday, November 1. For details, visit www.ausport.gov.au/ais/australias_winning_edge/ais_sports_draft