MALLORCA does very well with club, national and international athletes and it is well-trodden path to the island for the elite in cycling, tennis, football, sailing, swimming and triathlon.
Less frequent are the visitors in rowing or cross country skiing, and you would have to look very hard to find the person who knew their way around sports as diverse as short track speed skating and Canoe Slalom at the Olympic level.
Meet Anna Kemp. Anna is the tutor from Loughborough College who lives in Colonia Sant Jordi and delivers a BTEC in sport to the budding athletes of the future and comes to the island with a long history of performance sport.
In the build up to the London Olympics Anna was the performance analyst to the British teams in short track speed skating and canoe slalom.
The first is the one where they whizz round an indoor ice rink at ridiculous speeds around corners so tight there can be spectacular spills and the second is where the athletes are in a kneeling position and each paddle with one blade through the white water slalom course.
Along with the traditional ‘sitting down’ sports like rowing, sailing and equestrian, it is a sport that Britain are rather good at.
Working with the English Institute of Sport Anna was seconded to these two sports and then started working for them full time.
“My job as a performance analyst was to provide coaches and athletes with video analysis, data analysis and statistics,” she explained.
“In canoe slalom for example, at the Olympics or any competition we analyse, we break the course down gate by gate, and analyse every section:
what are the split times of British athletes compared with everyone else; who is faster in each section and why are they faster? What techniques are they executing at each point and what can we learn?”
Clearly they learned a great deal as Britain returned home from the London 2012 Games with gold and silver in the Canadian Doubles.
From 2007 to 2013 Anna was supporting the head analyst and was running the under 23 and development squads.
The canoeing racing season runs from May to September, then in the winter, from September to March, she transferred to the sport of short track speed skating where she was the first appointment as a performance analyst in the sport.
“There was a lot of setting up to be done and I had to get the buy-in from the coaches and athletes, but I loved the work,” she said.
When the post London funding was reduced in short track and the canoeing moved permanently to London, Anna stayed in Nottingham and returned to teaching.
Before becoming a performance analyst, Anna was delivering courses in sports coaching and development at Aberdeen College, close to her roots in the Orkneys.
“When Loughborough College heard I was back lecturing their undergraduate programme, they brought me into the elite sports programme at the College.
My role there was to deliver a bespoke sports education programme across a diverse range of sports including the young drivers in Motor Sport UK, the Bradford Bulls and other rugby league teams, British Athletics, British Hockey and the football academies like Derby County and Leicester City.
I was travelling every day and the guys I worked with were so great. The rugby guys were always so polite!
“I try to make the education as relatable as possible to their sports and what they know about their own sport they put into their education.
We teach the general points, then they make it specific to their own sport.
They are more motivated to learn like this and some go on to university, some into coaching or a career in sport and some continue to train full time at the elite level.”
It was at Leicester City that she met Danny Lee, who was in partnership talks with the BEST Centre about setting up an academy in Mallorca.
Anna was recruited to be the tutor on site to help build the programme here in the sports of swimming, triathlon, football and tennis and to deliver a one A level equivalent sport qualification to students at Palma College one day a week.
“I started in September 2019 and I absolutely love it here. Covid has been very disruptive and very challenging, and it has been hard on the students and we just need a clear run for a few years to get things going.
The people here are all so lovely and I really like it. I do my ‘Bon Dia’ to the locals I see on my morning run around the coastal pathway.
They don’t know what to make of me,” she says with a broad Scottish accent.
“They all think I’m German.”