TNSW recently conducted our U23 Development Camp in the regional town of Armidale NSW. Read on for a camp report from Pathway Manager, Mick Delamotte and click here to see a video of the athletes on camp.
The 11 day camp was designed to provide our U23 athletes with a strength focussed training block in an unfamiliar environment, preparing them with some life skills to thrive in international environments.
From long car trips with shared driving, to navigating new towns for essentials such as supermarkets, bike shops (& of course coffee shop – aka the boys at the GoldFish Bowl) the environment in Armidale promoted self-discovery and independent management. Athletes had access to the local UNE Gym, appointment slots were allocated to local massage providers and with 10 of our 13 athletes having never driven a manual car, all were provided with driving lessons from a local driving instructor. We even put all our athletes through the Foundation Coaching Course accrediting a dozen new Coaches who will utilise their Pathway experience by giving back to our Academy programs and Home Program in the future, all part of the legacy our Pathway is creating.
Training venues were conveniently located around town and load management was the responsibility of the individual athlete to manage and communicate with myself and U23 Pathway Coach Mick Ferris.
The athletes were tremendous - most have stepped through the Pathway since they were young teenagers in the Youth & Junior ranks, and to see them manage themselves professionally through the camp illustrated the importance of life skills being integrated within our Pathway camps.
Personal and food hygiene was on point, they cooked daily with appropriate portions and nutrient dense meals to meet energy availability needs. Training sessions often started earlier than scheduled given athletes were ready and waiting for Coaches more times than not. The athletes switched on for every session, achieving session objectives and contributing positively to the group environment. Likewise they balanced the recovery processes extremely well and switched off and had down time when needed. The maturity to have a kip when needed and the confidence to get out and explore local sites with the team was demonstrated. They also showed a capacity to be totally independent, train smart, look after themselves and enjoy the environment. This sets them up well for the inevitable international travel that will come as they progress through their Triathlon careers.
I have seen it many times, and it was one of the points I made known to the athletes: plenty of talent has left our shores to race internationally, but their inability to adapt, problem solve, get to & from training and racing venues without stress, eat, drink and recover appropriately has seen underperformance and indeed no race starts due to injury and illness. Our motto was thrive not just survive - being professional is more than just training, in fact that is the easy part, so focussing some aspects of the camp in other areas was important, and they all nailed it (even the ice cream runs!).
We were extremely fortunate with our hosts at St Alberts College in Armidale. Mary Wright & her team were fabulous, nothing was an issue for them. Our thanks also go to the Gym staff at UNE, Joshua our massage therapist (who had magic hands!), and Mark, Alan & the boys at the Armidale Bicycle Centre, who were amazing and so accommodating to the athletes, Jimmy Pennington from the Armidale School couldn’t do enough for us & Dimitrios from Aussie Blu Driving School must have nerves of steel after 10 hours in the passenger seat of a manual car with our athletes.
Ultimately though there were plenty of hills discovered on the roads of Armidale & skill sets on the driving instructor's course and skid pan, the Pine Forest & dirt roads were well worn from the run miles and hill repeats, the TAS Pool and local dam were the scenes of our swim sets with the 2 ‘Micks’ alternating session leads across the camp.
It was a training venue that is home to our Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist Gillian Backhouse & she was helpful with some local knowledge. In a region of NSW that has produced triathlon superstars in the past, our alignment with the Northern Inland Academy of Sport and investment in this region with local tri clubs should see further athletes come through this area in the years to come. In the meantime, Armidale will remain a staple on our annual camp calendar.
Thanks to Mick Ferris for his support and coaching on Camp and importantly to the athletes who made it what is was, you all did a fantastic job and importantly achieved all objectives and had a ball doing it. I wish all the athletes and their home coaches the very best for the season ahead & look forward to our next race camp in the coming months with the team as we chase further development opportunities and performances.