With the Commonwealth Games being on at present, I thought it might be timely to share a glimpse of my visit (along with some of my fellow Humans from the Human Brochure) to the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) where the hardworking athletes that we are applauding and cheering on our screens right now prepare and train.
Did you realize that the AIS offers behind the scenes tours? I did not.
Upon our arrival, we were met by the 2 elite athletes who would be our guides: Rohan Kalisch who does mixed martial arts/ boxing and Catherine Brown who plays for Canberra United Soccer.
Every tour is led by at least one elite athlete, so you can get lots of great information straight from the source.
Our first stop was to see the gymnasts at work.
No matter their area of speciality, the gymnasts have to use all the apparatus in every training session.
With an intensive 30-36 hours of practise per week, gymnasts are the hardest training as well as the youngest group at the AIS.
There were a variety of activities taking place simultaneously and seamlessly. I was impressed with the focus of these young athletes with that number ’30-36 hours’ ringing in my ears as I watched them go through their paces.
I thought of the dedication, early starts, early bedtimes, sacrificing of social engagements etc. that these kids are committing to. Impressive.
Tim Edgar who is a Volleyroo, then showed us around the volleyball training area.
The floor they train on is from the Sydney Olympics I believe.
There is a robot Attack Volleyball Machine called Jethro that serves volleyballs at terrific speed. When the national season is over, he and the other Volleyroos play overseas with various international teams 7 months of the year. The tallest guy on the Volleyroo team is 2 meters 18.
Tim Edgar isn’t exactly tiny.
We saw the basketball players in their training session. The first thing I noticed was how the floors gleamed.
The skill the players displayed was smooth and well honed. Those basketballs were flying into the baskets like butter and without fail. The rapid- fire passes and bold defensive plays (is that correct basketball lingo?) were a blur of perfection.
The image is fuzzy, you say? You try taking a clear photo when a ball and couple dozen athletes are thundering towards you!
Our tour guides pointed out the fencing training area next door briefly.
Then we moved on to the training pool. The pool that the athletes train in was empty when we got there. People, it is the worlds most technologically advanced pool. Isn’t that amazing? We have this pool here in our city! But what makes it so awesome?
Well, first of all, it is designed to facilitate athletes who are training in the water for up to 4 hours a day. The water is kept at 26 degrees which research has shown to be the optimal temperature for swimmers. The way the water flows somehow makes swimming easier, so the athlete can focus more on their technique. The place has cameras installed throughout that can produce 3d images of the swimmers.
These cameras also film above and below the swimmer so the coaches can observe and then streamline the swimmer’s technique There is even an underground tunnel that enables coaches to monitor the swimmer’s stroke also.
With about 20 minutes left of our tour, we popped briefly into Sportex which is a fun interactive complex where you can experience a range of athletic simulation and feel all sporty and stuff. The kids and the kids at heart will love it!
I highly recommend taking the time to actually do a tour at the AIS. Tours run 4 times a day and go for an hour and a half. Adults cost $18, children $10, and students $13. Family tickets consisting of 2 adults and 3 children are $49.
If you aren’t convinced by me, check out this video: