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#DiscoverYourGold: finding world beaters with Wattbike and UK Sport

The largest multi-sport talent identification programme in British history, #DiscoverYourGold aims to identify talented young athletes who have the potential to become future champions. 

Through a series of rigorous performance assessments, including targeted tests on the Wattbike, the campaign is a partnership between UK Sport, the English Institute of Sport and a range of national governing bodies to discover outstanding 15-24 year-olds. We visited Brunel University for a round of talent identification to find out more.

Those being tested were to be considered for a number of Olympic disciplines: speed skating, rugby sevens, track cycling, bobsleigh, skeleton and rowing. A mixture of applicants from a wide range of sports were to be put through their paces, many of whom were already established athletes in other areas including athletics, running or cricket.

After some basic body composition measurements and a warm up, athletes were asked to complete explosive tests - a standing jump and a broad jump assessing height and distance - and a 40-metre sprint. These were to help establish the ability of those tested to produce explosive power; perfect for bobsleigh, track cycling and rugby sevens.

The real challenge, however, came in the form of the Wattbike. Awaiting everyone were the following; two 6-second max sprints, two 10-second max sprints and a maximal ramp test. These set repeatable, accurate benchmarks for an athlete’s explosive power and anaerobic endurance - both measured in watts per kilo. A rather ominous-looking sick bucket was placed next to every Wattbike for this section, and we wondered if this was a mind game (once one bucket was filled, we realised it was a basic necessity).

“There are a number of reasons we use Wattbike for athlete testing,” says Amy Warburton, Senior Performance Pathway Scientist at the English Institute of Sport. “For a number of sports, peak power is vital. The Wattbike can test this reliably and provide repeatable, accurate results. In addition, many athletes are already familiar with the bike which means they aren’t intimidated by the equipment during the talent ID process.”

Amy Holder, who went through the talent ID process, was looking for the chance to prove herself in another discipline. “I do athletics, it’s the only sport I’ve done and I really wanted to try out something different. I wanted to see if I was good enough to be selected today and make it to the next level in a different sport. I’ve got my eye on track cycling.”

Find out more about the #DiscoverYourGold project here, and read more about our story in elite sport here.

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