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Australian database brings golden rewards



Robert Dunt

Australia's Olympic victories should come as no surprise considering a computer is being used to highlight potential...



Robert Dunt

Australia's Olympic victories should come as no surprise considering a computer is being used to highlight potential champions while they are still in their teens.

Children aged 13 to 16 are being compared against a database of elite athletes' physical attributes. Those who meet the criteria are then given specialist training, even if they lack experience in the sport identified.

Already the Government-funded programme, which was started six years ago when Australia was awarded the Olympics, has produced 27 world junior championship medals for Australia.

The program works by flagging up children with exceptional attributes and matching them to a particular sport - anyone with a long trunk, for example, could be a future rowing champion.

The Australian Institute of Sport runs the program and has so far scanned over 200,000 children. About 1% of these are now being trained.

Although the program is not high-tech, sports physiologist Will Hopkins, from the University of Otago in New Zealand said, "As long as you sample enough kids even crude tests will work well."

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