Tag Archives: BPJI

World championships 2015 – Team GB

Well, it is fair to say I feel strongly about our performance in the world championship, not just this year but every year. I have attended every world championships since 1999 with the exception of this one in Kazakstan and I feel world championship performance is good indicator of our performance at the Olympic games. So where do we sit?

I have  reported in detail on our performance at previous world championships and my disappointment in no secret. In 2011 we had our worst world championships since 1969 and things have not improved. In Chelyabinsk in 2014 we took four athletes, Ashley McKenzie, Collin Oates, Sally Conway and Natalie Powell, they won four fights between them (two for Ashley and two for Colin). It is fair to say will did a little better this year – we took double the number of players which is good. We won 9 fights in total so I guess our performance hasn’t really improved (it is still roughly 1 win per athlete) but we did get a 7th place. Lets be honest though, a country with a great tradition in this sport and a great budget should not be happy with this result. So what’s wrong? Well the truth is no one knows, if they did we would fix it! But here is some options based upon my personal opinion.

Is it the athletes?

I think the athletes should and will take responsibility of their own performance but I don’t think we can blame the players at all because it is inconceivable to me that any one of them didn’t give 100% and even if one or two didn’t then that wouldn’t explain why the whole team didn’t perform. So as far as I am concerned this is not about the athletes unless you believe that it is their fault for not all moving to one central location and i’ll discuss that below.

Selection policy

There has been a lot of discussion about British Judo’s selection policy for this world championships. Many feel it was too harsh. I think there does need to be a selection process and it should be difficult to qualify, for many years we have sent teams that are too weak for this level based on the fact the player was British number one, there does need to be a balance between the money we’re prepared to spend to send people and their actual chance of medalling. That said there are players who I feel should have gone – Danny Williams, Owen Livesey, Frazer Chamberlain, Gemma Howell, Nathan Burns and Andy Burns all come to mind immediately (of course there are others). Whilst I disagree in general with self-funding maybe this would be a solution here. I think there needs to be a very different mind set in terms of selection, it should be more of a “send them if I can” rather than “send as few as possible”. I also think it is inexcusable for someone who has met the criteria to not be sent!

I certainly don’t have all the answers in terms of selection policy, I don’t think it should be a free for all but at the same time I feel there was a huge injustice in the selections for this world championships. If someone is qualified for the Olympics or within range of qualifying send them, don’t hide bullshit politics behind policy and pretend it is all transparent!

Pre-world training camp

Prior the the worlds British judo run a pre-training camp, they did the same before the Olympics. I have never attended a whole one but I have been to the odd day of some of them and I have always looked at the training programmes for them. My general impression is that they seem good and whenever asked players seem to say they feel ready for the competition and preparation was good (maybe just the standard answer!). Whilst I generally have a good impression of these we maybe should question them, after all the players we send to the world championships can compete on that level. All (most) of them we sent this time had GS and GP medals so there has to be some reason for the performance and they don’t have these pre-camps prior to GP/GS I believe they train at their own training centre.

I’m not saying it is right or wrong, just that we need to consider it.

Centralisation

Well… the premise of centralisation is that you can pool your support services (doctors, physio etc) and that there will be more training partners (because everyone is in one location). My understanding is that after Rio everyone will have to move to the British Judo centre of excellence.

Personally I am not a fan of centralisation for this country, we should remember that this is a system Nigel inherited rather than created and is enforcing what UK sport are forcing us to do (I do not know whether Nigel is a true advocate of centralisation or not but certainly in his current role he gives the impression he believes in it). We should also remember that UK sport are enforcing centralisation because this is what was sold to them in the previous Olympic cycle (maybe even the one before) by performance directors and the then CEO.

My personal opinion is that centralisation will kill British judo and arguably already is. I would be interested to know if anyone knows of a western country where centralisation is working? Please comment below if you can think of one, I would genuinely like to be proved wrong.

I do think however that one good thing to come out of centralisation is the England Performance Pathways and AASE, I wouldn’t say they have been developed because of centralisation but the fact the the BJA is now more focussed on the pathway and the pathway is led from Walsall is good (it is led from a performance environment rather than some office where no-one actually does judo).

British judo in general

Lets be honest, our issue are much bigger than only getting a 7th at the worlds, we could have an all singing all dancing centre of excellence and we’d still struggle because what is happening below that is far from excellent. Our coach education system is far from great, our competition structure lacks, well structure! and our referee education is awful, I mean we’re worried about one 7th place at the worlds, how many referees qualified? All of this needs urgent attention. Furthermore our former chair (and therefore our board) have just allowed us to embarrass ourselves and lose a European championships showing just how disjointed with are from the EJU and IJF.

I know I sound like like a constant cynic and in honesty I am not, there is some great stuff going on but it is hard to sit by and watch our “performance management group” allow this constant repetition of poor performance. It is not fair on the membership and most certainly is not fair on the athletes.

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London 2012 – Praise UK sport!!

Undoubtably Team GB has had it’s best Olympics ever and in my opinion this is only possible because of UK sport – the funding body for high performance sport in the UK. I have been playing around with the table below and it shows some interesting things in my opinion.

Table 1: Shows the Olympic sports, their funding for the Olympic cycle leading to London 2012, medals won by each sport, whether the sport met its target and how much a medal costs in each sport.

According to this table the most expensive GB medal of London 2012 was the hockey bronze and the most cost effective sport was boxing costing £15,013,200.00 & £1,910,280.00 per medal respectively.
A closer look does show us some interesting points though, five sports exceeded their target, 23 were within their target and only one was below it’s target. We should look at this more closely though. For example, of the 23 on target 12 were not expected to medal (we’ll discuss this below) and judo exceeded its target but it should be clear that this was a new target after the sport became red under the UK sport traffic light system within the Mission 2012 strategy; they were actually on target for their original prediction of 2-3 medals.

So why does UK sport give so much money to sports that were never expected to medal and indeed did not medal? £39,772,587 to be exact! Well the truth is that in order for us to deliver in the future sports need a system for delivering high performance athletes and to build this system takes time – more than a single 4 year cycle. In Beijing we won 47 medals from around 11 sports, in London we won 64 medals from 17 sports. Therefore there were sports in exactly the same position as our 12 non-medal sports that developed from 2008-2012 to deliver – diving, shooting and triathlon for example.

So what does this tell us? Well it tells us that in our achieving sports it costs at average of £4,282,343.33 for a medal, of course this is skewed by the rather expensive hockey medal – without that medals are a bargain at £3,611,664.78. And the big question, now that David Cameron has said the same budget will be in place for Rio 2016, is where should the £264,143,753 go for the next cycle – well  only UK sport can answer this but here are some thoughts:

  1. In certain sports you can only win 2 medals (mens and women’s) for example hockey, football, handball, basketball, volleyball and water polo. If this table shows us the average cost of a medal is just over £3.5M then how can we justify more than £7m for these sports? Basketball and hockey both got more than this during this cycle – hockey more than double this.
  2. This leads you to consider sports with multiple medals – swimming, judo, weightlifting, wrestling for example. If we could get these sports to consistently deliver 5-8 medals like boxing and equestrian did in this cycle that would be around another 20 medals – we’re not far off the USA then! But if these sports are to produce they need a system.
  3. I believe UK sport made the correct decision to fund sports over multiple Olympic cycles in order to develop a system – this is essential for us to continue improving – cycling, sailing and rowing can only win so many medals. I do not have enough inside knowledge to know which sports are close to a system that consistently produces medals other than those that do already although I would guess boxing and taekwondo are close, maybe athletics in another Olympic cycle or two?
  4. Can our higher profile sports get some of their budgets from sponsorship thus freeing up some of the UK sport money for other sports. Cycling for example has the sky money on top of their UK sport money but many sports cannot get this level of sponsorship, is this fair? Eventually it would be great if the majority of sports were sustainable in this way.

Of course most people reading this will be from judo, what do I think about judo’s funding. Well lets be honest we have done better than we thought in terms of medals but does that mean we have a system? Certainly not, the BJA are still working with an interim performance director and despite several interviews they still have not offered him full-time employment. If you were UK sport would you give judo lots of money? Do we honestly have a system we feel can consistently produce medals? Do we feel we’re working towards such a system? I personally don’t think so but it is not all doom and gloom. I used to visit the BPJI regularly under our previous management structure and in honesty it was beyond depressing. But I also went after Daniel Lascau had been here a while, of course it was the same place, poorly thought out in terms of high performance training but there was always an air of optimism, athletes were working harder and there was discipline based upon respect rather than fear.  UK sport have seen Daniel change our high performance training without being able to make a single structural change and therefore I would guess they would/should feel confident in his ability to deliver over a 4 year period with complete control. Would they trust someone completely new after what happened during our last cycle?

Anyway, this post is more about praising UK sport for a job well done! They predicted between 40-70 medals (which is a big boundary to be fair) and they got 65. Their consistent attention to detail and challenging of conventional wisdom has proven a great success!

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Great Britain at the World Judo Champs 2011 Pt 5 – Where now & Transparency

Here it is, the last post on the subject of Great Britain’s performance in the 2011 World championships. Over the past 4 posts I have discussed our performance, the players, the system and the role of UK sport, now I will briefly discuss what we could do now and transparency.

So what now? Well I want to try and avoid any rumours and will offer a couple of solutions, I am only considering from now until London. Of course I have opinions on a longer term strategy, and I have presented these at conference, but it is beyond the scope of this post.

1 Possibly the easiest and most cost affective would be to remove the current high performance directorate and allow players to train in the location of their choice, Camberley, Bath, Ratho, Dartford etc I would leave Darren and Kate and Dartford. Players have been asking to be left alone to train where they are for a long time, with only 317 days to go could we realistically find and employ a new coach and get all the players to move?

2 Thinking outside the box, you could just move the whole team with selected coaches to one of the IJF training camps and stay there until London, Tunisia for example. This might sound harsh and drastic but imagine the whole squad in one place, no distractions, nothing to do but train for the next 10 months. Soldiers have to do it, I am sure it wouldn’t be popular with players initially but once they are there and have nothing to do but train they might be more positive.

3 Of course you could leave things as they are? Lets be honest the damage is done, if we let the current high performance directorate see out until London at least we won’t get the “if we had stayed it would have been fine” or the “if the BJA/membership/board had been more patient…” but lets be honest, we have probably been too patient!

I am sure there are many other options, these are just three of the top of my head but my point is quite simple. The majority of people will have read the above and thought “that won’t work” or ‘that is stupid” or “Bob has lost the plot” but what you have to consider is that every option has pro’s and con’s and there is now a small group of people (the BJA board of directors and possibly some UK sport people) who will have to decide where we go now. Their solution will also have flaws, some of us will 100% disagree with, other might think it is okay and some will hate it.

Two things soldiers are very good at (obviously there are more!) is complaining and “getting on board”. There is a time and place to complain and there is a time and a place to “get on board” or as it was described to me the day we invaded Iraq – “We have had our chances discuss and complain, now we must stop dicking around and make change happen” whilst not the most eloquent of statements he had a point. I think we have reached this point now in British Judo. It is well and truly time to stop dicking around! A decision will be made by British judo soon, when it is made, regardless of whether we agree or not, now is the time to make change happen! We know there is a shortage of partners so if you’re a dan grade get to every randori session you can to support the team, if you’re rich help players get to world cups, if you’re a physio get to one of the main training centres and volunteer to help, if you can use a camera help Nigel, there is so much help needed that pretty much whatever skill you have you can help. ‘They’ are not British judo ‘we’ are British judo and we all have a chance now, entering the final phase, to make things happen (Bath, Camberley and Dartford (not sure about Ratho) all publish there their training programs so get down there and help).

In my opinion one of the main issues here has been transparency. Players feel many of the selections (or non-selections) were unjust, they also feel if they speak out they will have less chance of selection and many feel speaking out will be the end of their career as an athlete altogether. I think the new system should have a system where athletes, coaches and even parents feel they can voice concern (I am not talking about day to day whinging) and that their concern will be heard by the appropriate people with retribution. Ideally players would feel they could go to the performance director but I think we are a way of that kind of trust at the moment, maybe we could  use a middle person? Maybe one of the board is assigned tot his issue? I don’t know but I am sure the two main issues here have been transparency and coaching philosophy.

The average hit on this blog per month is between 4-500. Already this month I have over 2000 hits and it is only the 15th. I would like to thank the people who have supported me in writing this blog and I would especially like to thank the eight British squad players, three parents of British squad players and six coaches who have gone out of their way to find me at competition or email me to thank me for writing these posts, many of whom I hadn’t met before.

Soremade!

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