Latest News | 24 August 2022

Derbyshire’s sporting triumphs feel like the start of something big

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What an inspiring summer of sport it’s been both nationally and internationally. The England women’s football team are champions of Europe and I was delighted the Derbyshire Institute of Sport (DIS) alumni brought home 13 medals from the Commonwealth Games. This increases to 20 if you count all Derbyshire athletes.

It means that if Derbyshire was a country, we would have come 14th in the medal table – higher than Singapore, Pakistan, Barbados or Bermuda. We’ve been winners at the European championships too.

Home-grown Derbyshire talent has played a huge role and we’re rightly proud. England’s full-back Millie Bright, on the pitch for that glorious Wembley final, was brought up in Killamarsh and played for Killamarsh Dynamos before being scouted by Sheffield United and later joining Doncaster Rovers Belles. At 21 she signed for Chelsea and got her England call-up.

Just like many sportswomen and men, her career started with her local club and her talent and ambition got her to the top. Millie was nine when she started playing for the Dynamos. This is the same age we welcome children into our Prep Squads, after-school clubs which focus building a lifelong healthy involvement in sport and start that journey to be world class.

DIS encourages boys and girls with a talent for sport to be the best they can. They may not wish to be champions, just good competitors.

Our coaches complement the work being done by the sports clubs by delivering of a full suite of sport science services. Parents link up with other like-minded families to support their talented children. Nutrition advice is on offer, plus tips on the all-important psychology of competing.

We’ve got ambitious plans to train PE teachers from schools as Prep Squad coaches.

We feel some schools have seen a slow decline in the perceived value of sport. Where but in schools is that child going to pick up that racquet or kick that ball for the first time?

Come the start of the new school year, I really hope more parents will be asking questions if the school does not offer girl’s football on the curriculum.

Putting the accolades, medals and trophies aside for a moment, this sporting success feels like a springboard for parents to be encouraging their children into sport. Beyond the track, field or pitch, sport enriches lives, boosts physicality and confidence. It can teach self-responsibility, resilience and decision-making – all characteristics useful in life and in business.

And if the Euros success has taught boys anything it is not to give funny looks to girls who arrive to play football with them!

So why has Derbyshire athletes done so well at competitions like the Commonwealth Games?

The county-based high-performance swimming clubs play a big part. We also have a wealth of great coaches in Derbyshire alongside great sporting facilities, ambitious private schools and fantastic countryside to train in and enjoy. 

Just as important are the scores of clubs county-wide covering every type of sport and many run by unpaid volunteers. These are the true unsung heroes in our county.

I couldn’t be prouder of all the brilliant athletes from Derbyshire but there is much more talent to be tapped into. DIS’s work with our athlete family never stops – and nor will it for those hard-working young people aiming for the Paris Olympics in 2024 and beyond.

The list of sporting high achievers we help is growing – cricketers, javelin throwers, gymnasts, tennis players and a Derby County FC youth player are just a few. We support a youngster whose sport is equestrian vaulting which is basically gymnastics on the back of a horse.

We are a community interest company so reply on sponsorship to keep supporting our youngsters aged between nine and 23 who are on a wide range of programmes with us. We still have spaces on our Prep Squad for nine to 11-year-olds, our Development Squad for 11 to 13-year-olds and our Performance Academy for those 13 and over.

We don’t just create world-class athletes, we adapt our winning methods to achieve great business teams too. Our Business Champions scheme uses sports psychology to examine how you can understand your own mindset, cope under pressure and adapt to challenges and changes in the working world.

We rely on our sponsors to keep going and invite everyone to our fun and friendly fundraising dinner at Reach Derby at Pride Park on Thursday October 20. Along with excellent food and company, guests will hear from former world badminton champion and Olympic and Commonwealth medallist Nathan Robertson. 

For the record, here’s Derbyshire’s Commonwealth Games medals haul.

A gold medal was won by DIS alumnus Liam Pitchford who, alongside Paul Drinkhall, retained his Commonwealths men’s doubles table tennis title.

Golds from athletes who have trained in Derbyshire came from Adam Peaty in the pool, Emily Campbell in the women’s 87kg+ weightlifting category and Dave Ellis in the men’s PTVUI para triathlon alongside guide Luke Pollard.

The women’s hockey team beat Australia in the final to win gold. Captain Holli Pearne-Webb, plus Shona McCallin, Anna Toman and Lily Walker were part of the squad who were coached in the county.

Swimmer Imogen Clark’s silver in the 50m breaststroke was a British record and Abbie Wood clinched three bronzes and two silvers. Jacob Whittle won three silvers and Jamie Ingram one silver.

Dan Bigham and Charlie Tanfield won silver in the men’s team pursuit in track cycling.

The Derbyshire Institute of Sport, based at Derby Arena, provides world-class support for youngsters and offers them the competitive advantage they need to become a champion. Each member of the DIS team has either been a top athlete or regarded as a leader in their field. 
They concentrate on performance mentoring, performance lifestyle, strength and conditioning, nutrition, physiotherapy and psychology, aiming to improve motivation, self-awareness, self-regulation, resilience and communication. The DIS was formed as a legacy community interest company after the London Olympics in 2012.

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