Training palace for WA stars
WAIS FACILITY NEAR
Kim Mickle stares past her trusty javelin at what will soon be her new multimillion-dollar training venue and thinks of cow pats.
The reigning Australian female athlete of the year can barely believe that at the most important time in her career, at 30 years of age and with the Rio Olympics just over a year away, the WA Institute of Sport is nearly ready to unveil a $34 million revamp that will give the State’s athletes access to the best facilities in the world.
“I’ve trained in all sorts of crap, ” she said outside the new WAIS High Performance Service Centre, which will become the physical hub of WA’s sporting identity in Mt Claremont.
“We travel a lot and sometimes we don’t even have a gym or a track to train on, ” she said.
“I’ve legitimately trained in cow paddocks and lifted tyres and things just to get some movement happening.
“I’ve even done a gym session in my hotel room.
“I’ve been at the old WAIS building for about 14 years now and I’m actually going to miss it. But to have my last few years in a brand new facility is going to revamp the whole energy in my training because it’s always fun playing with new toys.
“Maybe this is the secret to winning gold at Rio . . . it’s going to be like Christmas.”
Olympic canoe sprint star Steve Bird said being able to go from the gym to the recovery room within seconds would be a huge advantage as he worked towards his Olympic dream. “I feel quite privileged to be an athlete at this time, ” he said.
WAIS executive director Steve Lawrence said the new building matched anything of its kind in the world.
He said planning for the centre, which had been made more accessible to disabled athletes, had spanned 13 years and five Sport and Recreation ministers. “It’s the biggest single commitment to a State sports institute by any government in Australia, ” Mr Lawrence said.
“The big picture for us is that we have the equal, if not better, to facilities anywhere in Australia and equal to probably anything in the world.
“Second to that, it’s something that will last the State for 20 to 30 years.”
There are eight camera angles that can be focused on an athlete, giving coaches access to 500 pictures a second to help give immediate feedback.
Banks of lights blaze down a five-lane, 60m runway to help provide the perfect picture.
A 45m hydraulic ramp will be part of a new world for WA’s star pole vaulting products, who have been plying their trade out in the sweaty, disused Midland Railway Workshops.
Three force plates can be moved to give an athlete exact information on where the pressure is being exerted through their feet and how much.
Mickle’s javelin will travel about 23m a second into a German-made curtain that will drop down from a gantry built into the roof.
“The amount of information we can give back to coaches and athletes is going to be enormous, ” WAIS sports biomechanist Andrew Lyttle said.
© The West Australian
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