After the Athens Paralympics, it was obvious that the pool of talent required to maintain Australia’s Paralympic standing would not keep replenishing itself. As sports were ‘mainstreamed’ and became the responsibility of national federations, there were calls, especially from athletics head coach Scott Goodman, for the Australian Paralympic Committee to use its expertise and experience to coordinate a national talent identification program. The APC’s ‘Talent Search’ program commenced with a ‘come and try’ day in March 2005 in Newcastle, NSW, at the University of Newcastle conducted by Paralympian Amy Winters and program manager Kellie Puxty. Amazingly, one of the attendees at that day, Kath Proudfoot, went on to become the first athlete identified through the program to win a Paralympic medal when she won a silver medal in the discus at the Beijing summer Paralympics. By the Beijing Games, 72 Talent Search activities had been conducted, with 1,008 participants. Of these, 127 were identified at ‘tier one’ athletes (future elite potential within two years) and 395 as ‘tier two’ athletes (elite potential within four years). Fifty-three Talent Search athletes were part of the Paralympic Preparation Program in the year leading into the Beijing Games, with 27 Talent Search athletes being selected in the Australian Paralympic Team and 15 of these winning medals at their first Paralympic Games. The program had been a success and over the years continued to contribute an increasing number of athletes to Australian teams.
Date: March 2005
Author: From "Daily Liberal" (Dubbo NSW), Saturday 26/1/2008, page 7, general news.