Wed, Aug 15, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Australia enlists soldiers in drive for Olympic gold


Soldiers have been enlisted to help Australian athletes perform better under pressure in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as part of a drive to win more medals.

It follows their smallest haul in 24 years at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where Australia finished 10th in the table with eight golds and 29 medals overall.

In a bid to get back to winning ways, members of the military are to mentor elite athletes from November as part of a partnership announced yesterday between the army and the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).

The primary focus is to be on improving their cognitive and physical capabilities.

Australia at the Rio Olympics had more athletes finish just outside the medals, in positions four to eight, than any other nation, AIS director Peter Conde said.

“The AIS sees this as an opportunity to develop our sports, athletes and coaches to help them convert more podium potential into medal success,” he said.

Four key areas are to be tackled: mental health and well-being, performance under pressure, injury and illness prevention, and converting talent into high performance.

“When people think of army and sport, the image is often of boot camps to build resilience,” Conde said. “This partnership will be far more advanced, exploring education opportunities, mentoring, familiarization techniques and strategies to deal with pressure.

“It’s a chance to develop our top athletes’ capacity to reach their peak performance and sustain that under Olympic conditions,” he added.

About 120 athletes and coaches are to take part.

Army chief Lieutenant General Rick Burr said the project would also help the nation’s soldiers.

“The army continuously looks at how we get the best out of our people. This partnership with the AIS focuses on what we can achieve to continually improve human performance,” he said.

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