Peter Fricker welcomed workshop delegates on the day after the Federal Budget (see this item too). In his introduction, Peter discussed the outcomes of the internal review at the Australian Institute of Sport and the aim to deliver sustained success in international sport performance. Research and development will play a key role in the AIS’s mission. The strategic plan for research at the AIS involves:
- A focus on practical outcomes for coaches and athletes
- Awareness and knowledge of global practice
- Coordinated approaches and collaborative endeavours
- Demonstrable improvements in performance
- Communication of research findings and facilitation of better practice
Peter noted that the workshop aims to bring researchers together to support athletes. During the three days there will be discussion of thirty research projects and sport programs will have an opportunity to share their views on London and beyond. The overall aim of the workshop is to drive and shape thinking about sport specific development maps.
Peter identified the diversity of countries winning medals in Beijing 2008 and commented on the challenge for each medal at the Olympic Games. He observed too that competitor countries are looking at partnerships to build capacity and capability to be competitive and noted UK Sport’s research program. He pointed to exemplar programs in Germany, France, Japan and Korea as examples of this trend.
Peter acknowledged the Australian Government’s commitment to the role research will play in sporting excellence. Peter noted too the AIS’s partnerships with Universities. The AOC and APC acknowledge these relationships in their High Performance Plan.
Peter acknowledges the AIS partnership with CSIRO that emerged from a 2006 workshop. He pointed out that the partnership had an impact at Beijing. He added that there was a need build on the momentum this partnership had created.
Peter concluded his address with a thanks to the workshop attendees and a welcome to the AIS Bruce Campus.
Steve discussed CSIRO’s commitment to science and technology and talked specifically about the Advance Human Performance program. Two key areas:
- Smart equipment
- Personal performance technologies
To date eight business units across CSIRO are collaborating on a range of projects with the AIS, including:
- modelling of elite swimmers to develop ideal stroke technique
- thermoelectrically active fabrics that heat or cool athlete’s bodies for preparation, recovery and rehabilitation
- towards faster smarter oar shafts that are lighter and more aerodynamic
- scoring system for amateur boxing
- wearable body mapping garments for assessing and improving sports performance
- weather forecasting for sporting events
- non-invasive monitoring of athlete’s metabolic status from expired air for monitoring of athlete’s physiological status
- the Beijing Bike project, reducing cycling component friction via new coating technologies
- quantification of nutritional intake for high-performance sports nutrition
- wind protection for sporting venues, using textile structures for wind protection of rowing courses
- modelling kayak blades for optimizing paddling performance
- fibre optic anemometer for use on small yachts
- RF tracking of athletes for real-time positioning system to track athletes.
Steve noted that CSIRO were delighted that the AIS thought there had been a positive impact on performance in Beijing and he looked forward to supporting the AIS and Australian athletes in London 2012. He added that CSIRO can help researchers in sport with connections to the private sector.
The Advisory Committee for the Partnership is holding its first meeting at this workshop. The Committee comprises: Greg Nance, Callum Drummond, Alison Campbell, Craig Phillips, Steve Morton, Peter Fricker and Perry Crossthwaite.
Tim Kelly then introduced Craig Phillips, Secretary General of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) to present the AOC/Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) High Performance Plan (HPP) with a specific focus on research.
Craig recapped a timeline for the development of the AOC/APC HPP that started on 3 August 2008. A consultation process with national sporting organisations (and others) continued through to January 2009. The HPP aims to identify achievable results and the costs associated with them. A Forum in Sydney in February 2009 shared these consultations. Recommendations from the Forum were included in the HPP. The Plan submitted to the Minister of Sport, the Prime Minister and the Independent Sport Panel in March 2009. Craig made the strong point that the Plan was a bid for funds on behalf of NSOs and not for the AOC.
The Plan makes recommendations in nine key areas. Innovation and competitive advantage is Section 7.8 of the Plan (p.48ff). At the Sydney Forum stakeholders noted:
- The absence of substantive programs and the lack of national direction in innovation and research.
- The limited amount of funds available for research and development.
- One-line appropriation (post Sydney 2000) appears to discourage the allocation of funds for research and development (focus on short-term goals; dilemma of groups owning research outcomes; unclear leadership; best athletes need access to research within the network; IP needs to be better utilised.)
- Current practice contrasts sharply with that before 2000.
The HPP was informed by benchmark comparisons. Craig pointed to the example of UK Sport’s Ideas4Innovation.
Recommendation 23 in the HPP requests the implementation of a cross-sport strategy for applied research. It was proposed that: the AIS coordinate a task force for this purpose; that a specific budget be allocated that would be used to support clearly articulated research projects tied to finite outcomes; and that there should be a ‘risk fund’ for special initiatives. Need long-term planning with finite outcomes. Noted risk fund (venture capital). Recommendation 24 requests the application of information and communication technology and analysis that would make information about performance available and retrievable. This would include the monitoring of global practice.
Craig concluded his talk with an emphasis on the partnership between AOC and APC in the HPP.