Sport Ian Thorpe says scrapping medal predictions will boost performance

09:07  05 june  2018
09:07  05 june  2018 Source:   smh.com.au

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Australian swimming legend Ian Thorpe has called for sporting officials to break away from Olympic Games medal predictions and Thorpe backed the changing face of the AIS and the re-calibration of its operations, saying That's the most valuable tool to continue to progress sporting performances ."

Ian Thorpe says scrapping medal predictions will boost performance squib. by The Sydney Morning Herald 18 days ago. The Australian Olympic great was in Canberra on Tuesday to launch a new wellbeing and engagement division aimed at helping athletes cope with pressure .

Australian swimming legend Ian Thorpe.© AAP Image/Lukas Coch Australian swimming legend Ian Thorpe. Australian swimming legend Ian Thorpe has called for sporting officials to break away from Olympic Games medal predictions and targets to prioritise athlete wellbeing by limiting expectation and pressure.

Thorpe also backed an overhaul of the operations at the AIS, insisting the Canberra campus can become a world leader again if it changes its focus and shifts away from being an athlete hub.

Thorpe has joined the institute as an "athlete champion" for the organisation's new athlete wellbeing and engagement team and was part of an all-star panel at an inaugural summit in the capital on Tuesday.

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Ian James Thorpe , OAM (born 13 October 1982) is a retired Australian swimmer who specialised in freestyle, but also competed in backstroke and the individual medley. He has won five Olympic gold medals , the most won by any Australian, and with three gold and two silver medals

Swimming legend Ian Thorpe believes sporting organisations are shooting themselves in the foot by placing too many expectations on athletes before events. Thorpe , who won five Olympic gold medals , is hoping to influence change on athletes' mental health and performance after taking on a

The new division at the AIS has been created to help athletes cope with pressure during their careers and then transition into life after sport.

Thorpe is a five-time Olympic gold medallist, 10-time Commonwealth Games champion and  11-time world champion. Asked if Australia put too much pressure on athletes to perform, he said: "We most definitely do.

"We have an expectation around our team that is usually elevated and I don't think it's beneficial when sporting organisations also are talking about how many gold medals we will win at a competition and that will be the highest amount we've ever won.

"That puts an immense amount of pressure on athletes in something they do not have any control over. They have control over the process they have to be able to perform.

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Ian Thorpe says scrapping medal predictions will boost performance . "We have an expectation around our team that is usually elevated and I don't think it's beneficial when sporting organisations also are talking about …

Ian Thorpe says it is unfair on athletes for sporting bodies to set medal targets at competitions. Instead of being ambitious in setting high goals, Thorpe says it is only having a detrimental effect on athletes’ performances .

"What I'd prefer to see happen is that we know the athletes represent our communities, the diversity of this country and they're going to represent this country well. That will lead to gold medals and greater team unity."

The Australian Olympic Committee releases medal predictions before each Games. It predicted Australia would win 13 gold medals and 37 overall in Rio two years ago. Australia won eight gold medals and a total of 29.

The Australian Sports Commission changed its funding model after the 2012 Olympics and developed a "Winning Edge" strategy focused on investing in the top-tier athletes.

The AIS is in the midst of a major overhaul, with jobs as many as 40 jobs to be reallocated or cut in a radical change in Canberra as part of major reform for the future.

The institute will shift away from its purpose of being a training centre to exist in a smaller capacity and focus on areas of performance that are neglected.

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Instead of being ambitious in setting high goals, Thorpe says it's only having a detrimental effect on athletes' performances . Before Rio 2016, the Australian Olympic Committee predicted Australia would win 13 gold medals , for an overall tally of 37.

Ian Thorpe says scrapping medal predictions will boost performance . The Australian Olympic great was in Canberra on Tuesday to launch a new wellbeing and engagement division aimed at helping athletes cope with pressure.

Ian Thorpe won five Olympic gold medals and was an 11-time world champion.© Vince Caligiuri Ian Thorpe won five Olympic gold medals and was an 11-time world champion. One of those is mental preparation and making sure athletes have the tools to succeed at life when they're not competing in their chosen sport.

"It's my role to consider all of my experiences as an athlete and administrator to ensure I'm setting up a system that will allow more efficient opportunities and smarter investments," said winter Olympic gold medallist and commission deputy chair Alisa Camplin.

"The initiative of the athlete wellbeing and engagement division at the AIS is certainly what I think is a game-changing space.

"I wholeheartedly believe we have a moral duty of care towards our athletes and not just as athletes in the system, but as people. Unless we have strong, resilient and supported individuals, the athlete in them won't thrive."

The commission will likely sell some of its biggest assets in Canberra, including Canberra Stadium and the AIS Arena, and use the revenue to invest in sport.

Thorpe backed the changing face of the AIS and the re-calibration of its operations, saying change was needed to help athletes reach their potential.

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Thorpe has joined the wellbeing program, which is being pioneered by director Matti Clements, to change the way the AIS helps athletes become world champions.

"When I was competing, we probably spoke a good game [about athlete wellbeing] but in reality, all of the pieces weren't in play," Thorpe said.

"I also don't think we had a big enough emphasis around this and how this can be a benefit to sporting careers.

"It's about preparing athletes for what life outside of sport looks like. That can happen during a career and make that step easier.

"My personal position on the direction I feel the AIS needs to take is it needs to be the world's leader in athlete knowledge and athlete wellbeing.

"It becomes a sports science centre. This is probably the biggest gift the AIS has given to the sporting community. Not the athletes, the knowledge bank we've built up over decades. That's the most valuable tool to continue to progress sporting performances."

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