Around 350 young athletes, coaches and officials dreaming of glory at future Olympic and Paralympic Games are being put through their paces as the four-day Youth Sport Trust National Talent Camp got underway today.
The young participants aged between 14-19 years-old were hand-picked by their National Governing Body (NGB) to attend the prestigious camp, which will take place at Loughborough University from 19-22 December.
It marks the first time ever that young athletes, coaches and officials have all been brought together to train at the same time and location to share best practices and build a full appreciation of the role that each other play in creating great sport.
Athletes, coaches and officials from the seven Olympic and Paralympic sports of athletics, boccia, cycling, football, swimming, tennis and volleyball, will participate across the four days under the watchful gaze of Olympic heptathlon star Katarina Johnson-Thompson.
Katarina, who is currently training for gold at the 2015 World Athletics Championships in Beijing and at the Rio 2016 Olympics, will be looking to provide the young participants with advice and guidance on how to succeed at the very highest level.
Katarina said: "I'm thrilled to be supporting the young athletes, coaches and officials at this Youth Sport Trust National Talent Camp in Loughborough. Just like me, many of these young people will face hard challenges on their journey and some will doubt their ability to achieve their dream. However, if they are committed, work hard and realise the sacrifices they will have to make in order to succeed at the highest level, they will be on the right road."
Also providing support and inspiration for the young athletes, coaches and officials will be double Paralympic and four-time World Champion Hannah Cockroft, who is an Ambassador for the Youth Sport Trust.
The Youth Sport Trust National Talent Camp, which is funded by Sport England and delivered in partnership with Loughborough Sport, has the motto "Dream, Develop, Deliver" with the young athletes, coaches and officials being urged to work hard to fulfil their huge potential.
The gruelling camp will feature early starts, intense training sessions and a series of challenging workshops led by leading educators and Youth Sport Trust Athlete Mentors.
All sessions will highlight the crucial interplay between coaches, athletes, and officials.
Alison Oliver, Interim Chief Executive at the Youth Sport Trust, said: "Our National Talent Camp is all about supporting talented young athletes, coaches and officials. We are looking to challenge their way of thinking about what it takes to be the best and to test their commitment to succeed. We know that it will not be easy but that it will give the young participants a real insight into where they need to go and what they need to do to make it to the very top."
Sport England Director of Community Sport, Mike Diaper, said: "We're really pleased to be investing National Lottery funding to support the Youth Sport Trust National Talent Camp. By giving talented young athletes, coaches and officials the chance to come together and experience what it's like to train at the elite level, we're ensuring we remain at the pinnacle of international sport."
Tim Garfield, Director of Sports Development at Loughborough University, said: "Loughborough has a long standing reputation for nurturing sporting talent. So I am delighted that we are a key partner for the National Talent Camp and those attending have the chance to participate in our facilities that are the training base for a large number of Olympians and Paralympians. We are building a long term partnership with the Youth Sport Trust that will see us working together to realise the sporting ambitions of many more young people."