Peter Fricker, Director of the Australian Institute of Sport, welcomed delegates to the 2009 NESC Forum. There are 250 delegates in attendance at the Forum. Peter noted the importance of collaboration in the ethos of the Forum.
Peter invited the new chair of NESC, Steve Lawrence (Western Australia Institute of Sport), to open the Forum. Steve noted the venue for this year’s Forum and its significance in world sport. Steve recognised NESC members and thanked Wes Battams chair of NESC for the last five years.
Steve affirmed that NESC has been a vigorous focus for debate. He noted that NESC supports national success within state based rivalry. This sports system has tensions and NESC has worked for sixteen years to deliver outcomes for Australian sport. Steve emphasised the importance of the daily training environment in NESC’s work: a coach led multidisciplinary approach to enhancing performance. NESC represents a $90 million investment by the Federal Government and State Governments (this is a $20m greater investment than for the Sydney Games). There are 3100 athletes in the system (a 20% decrease from Sydney) and 490 core business staff (a 20% increase). Coaches make up 45% of this increase in staff. Steve confirmed that NESC invests in support for athletes and reported that 75% of all Olympic athletes came out of the NESC system in last two Olympic cycles. Recently, NESC has developed a national collective agreement and national athlete support agreement.
Steve introduced David Martin to the delegates.
David presented a talk entitled: Imitation is the Best Form of Flattery.
David pondered whether imitation is the first sign of weakness. Is AIS a copy of Russian and GDR systems? Is it an ethical GDR system?
David suggested that we converge on good ideas rather than copying them. He explored some ideas around convergent evolution.
David discussed early scientists at the AIS. He cited the work of Dick Telford, Allan Hahn, Peter Fricker and Louise Burke. He argued that these scientists are great examples of people prepared to put their skills to a real test.
David’s talk paused to acknowledge the 11 o’clock minute of silence. On recommencing the talk, David spoke movingly about Amy Gillett. He discussed the characteristics of a special institute that welcomes athletes and affirms their life choices in sport. David reflected on the Sydney Olympics and the energy that comes with a home Olympic Games.
David concluded his talk with a proclamation of confidence and used a video of a recent AIS altitude camp to demonstrate this confidence.