After experiencing the highs and lows of junior competitive sport, Annie Flamsteed launched a groundbreaking app in a bid to help aspiring athletes.
The former elite gymnast spent two years researching, piloting and redesigning iNSPIRE SPORT, which gives young athletes and their clubs access to expert content and guidance on a range of wellness issues including sports science, psychology and nutrition.
The idea was born out of her struggles as a junior gymnast in the South-West Queensland city of Toowoomba.
“I had everything – supportive parents, a great coach, access to psychologists and dietitians – but it still wasn’t enough,” Flamsteed said.
“I was fit, muscly and bubbly on the outside but on the inside, I was struggling with anxiety, restricting my food intake, cracking under pressure and not sleeping well. Then I went to university and not only burned out but dropped out of the sport I once loved.
“I came to realise that the pressure associated with junior sport and adolescent life in general can become a huge struggle for some athletes – even at the grassroots level - and I decided I wanted to change the lives of young people.”
A report on the Mental Health of Children and Adolescents from 2015 found one in fourteen young Australians aged 4-17 experienced an anxiety disorder while around one in 35 young Australians aged 4-17 experience a depressive disorder.
However, for young athletes, a 2018 German study has found those aged 12–14 years and 15–18 years are more susceptible to getting overstressed which can lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression.
While this study highlights that multiple demands might be associated with an increased rate of anxiety or depressive symptoms, more research still needs to be done.
With this in mind plus her personal experiences Flamsteed, who also is the founder and CEO of iNSPIRE SPORT, has a section of the app that allows users to track their wellness data.
The 23-year-old has also recruited a line-up of experts including psychologists, dietitians and exercise physiologists to devise validated content and courses for both young athletes and clubs including her former coach Chloe Watson.
For Watson, her passion for the project was not only driven by her experiences as a former gymnastics coach but more recent events.
“Since becoming a mother and watching what so many kids go through, I want to minimise the risks for my daughter when it comes to psychology, diet and exercise – and I have no doubt this resource will achieve that,” she said.
While sport is a wonderful tool without education and support, the pressure can build Flamsteed said.
"I know what it’s like to crack under that pressure and want to give children and their clubs the life skills they need to succeed both on and off the sporting field.”