Tag Archives: UK sport

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 1 – How bad is bad?

After much consideration I have decided to split this post into several shorter posts. It is no secret that I am hugely disappointed with the performance of the British Judo team over the 2011 world championships in Paris. With only 332 days to go until our u60kg player steps on the mat in the London 2012 Olympic games how can we have our worst world championships since 1969? Who is to blame?

Firstly I want to consider how badly we performed this year, was it really worse than previous years? I have made a table to show how bad our performance was (see below) in comparison to previous world championships.

Championships Gold Silver Bronze 5th 7th
2011, Paris 1 1
2010, Tokyo 1 1
2009, Rotterdam 1 1
2007, Rio 1 1 1 3
2005, Cairo 1 2 1
2003, Osaka 2 1 2
2001, Munich 2 1 2 1
1999, Birmingham 1 3 1 2
1997, Paris 1 3 2
1995, Tokyo 1 2 2
1993, Hamilton 1 1 2 2 3
1991, Barcelona 3 2 3
1989, Belgrade 2 2 5 1
1987, Essen 2 1 3 1 4
1986, Maastrict 3 1 Women Only
1985, Seoul 2 1 Men Only
1984, Vienna 1 1 Women Only
1983, Moscow 1 Men Only
1982, Paris 2 1 Women Only
1981, Maastricht 1 Men Only
1980, New York 1 1 3 Women Only
1979, Paris 1 2 7 Men Only
1975, Vienna 2 Men Only
1973, Lausanne 2 Men Only
1971, Ludwigshafen 2 Men Only
1969, Mexico City 1 Men Only
1967, Salt Lake City 1 Men Only
1965, Rio


This table clearly shows that the last time we didn’t medal in a world championships was 1975 but in 1975 we did secure two 5th places. In 2011 we got one 5th and one 7th place, to find a result this bad by British Judo at the world championships you would need to go back to Mexico City, 1969! That’s 42 years ago! So here we are 332 days away from a home Olympic games with our worst performance in 42 years.

Over the next few posts I am going to analyse this performance and where appropriate I will attribute blame, I don’t like pointing the finger and blaming people but enough is enough! In separate posts I will consider the players, the staff, the BJA, UK sport and the culture of judo in Great Britain.

The next post will be on the players, see you then and please add you comments….

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Great Britain at the World Judo Champs 2011 Pt 2 – The players

My first post on the World Judo Championships in Paris described pretty clearly how our results at this years world championships were below par in terms of comparison to previous results from GB judo. It should also be pointed out that the goals set by UK sport were a minimum of one medal and a maximum of three medals and considering this is what we have consistently achieved in the past I do not think they were asking for too much, especially considering their £7.5m investment of tax payers money/lottery money for this Olympic cycle. But if UK sport are going to improve British judo they need to target their efforts in the correct place, make the correct changes etc so over the next few posts I will consider this from different perspectives.

A good place to start the analysis of our performance is the players. So lets look at the team that was taken and their past achievements according to a brief look at judo inside.

– 60 Ashley McKenzie (u23 European champions 2010, World cup gold, 2011 (Warsaw) and some European cup golds 2010/11)

-60 James Millar  (7 world cup medals, most recent 2011)

-66 Colin Oates (Bronze European Champs 2011, 3 world cup medals)

-66 Craig Fallon (European Champion 2006, World Champion 2005, World silver 2003, 8 world cup medals)

-73 Danny Williams (European cup gold, 2011)

-81 Euan Burton (World Bronze 2010, World Bronze 2007, 3 x European Bronze, 6 world cup medals)

-90 Winston Gordon (5th Athens Olympics, Bronze Europeans 2006, 11 world cup medals)

-100 Jame Austin (3 European cup silvers in 2010/11)

-52 Sophie Cox (2 European Silvers & 2 European Bronze, 10 world cup medals)

-57 Gemma Howell (1 world cup bronze, 3 European cup golds in 2010, 2 u23 European Championships Bronze)

-63 Faith Pitman (2 world cup medals, 7th in world championships 2007)

-63 Sarah Clarke (15 world cup medals, European Gold, silver and bronze)

-70 Sally Conway (3 world cup medals, 5th in World Championships 2009, 2 European cup golds in 2011)

+78 Karina Bryant (7 times world medallist, 4 x European champion, 16 world cup medals)

+78 Sarah Adlington (7 world cup medals, 2 European cup medals in 2011)

Just to summarise, this team had a world champion and 10 other world championship medals, 5 European championship golds & 12 other European medals as well as around 90 world cup medals. I haven’t compared this to other teams but to me it seems like the players are, or at least were capable of medalling at a world level.

Maybe now we should look at how the team did in this years world championships.

– 60 Ashley McKenzie – two wins

-60 James Millar  – two wins

-66 Colin Oates – four wins

-66 Craig Fallon – no wins

-73 Danny Williams – one win

-81 Euan Burton – one win

-90 Winston Gordon – one win

-100 James Austin – no wins

-52 Sophie Cox – one win

-57 Gemma Howell – two wins

-63 Faith Pitman – one win

-63 Sarah Clarke – one win

-70 Sally Conway – no wins

+78 Karina Bryant – two wins

+78 Sarah Adlington – no wins

This gives us 15 players with 18 wins, or an average of 1.2 wins per player. Not only that but we should consider the countries we got some of our wins against. Colin Oates had a tough draw in places (FRA & BRA) but in many respects had an easy draw beating MDA, and GHA (the GHA boy trains in the UK and only 2-3 times per week). Sarah Clark’s win was against SEN, one of Ashley’s wins was against MLT, Winston’s win was against PAN and Sophie’s win was against MAC. Please beware I am not slatting the players for this, all I am saying is that we should be beating countries like SEN, MLT, PAN, GHA and MAC with the judo history and funding of Great Britain.

Some players had some fantastic wins, Colin Oates beat former European silver medalist Zagrodnik from POL in his first fight, he also beat Larose of France in his fifth fight. Karina Bryant beat Sadkowska of POL in her second fight. For me the British player of the week was Gemma Howell, she beat the former world champion, Ribout on home ground, she then beat world bronze medallist Karakas of Hungary in her second fight before she was beaten in fight three by the infamous Isabella Fernandez of ESP in a tactical fight and lets be honest, she can play tactics with the best!

I think it is fair to say we have a fairly old team and although many of them have world and European medals some of them haven’t medalled at this level for a while. But I also think if you took Euan, Sarah C, Karina, Craig, Winston you could/should expect one or two medals. I also think Gemma, Sally, Sophie, Ashley, Sarah A, Faith could have been expected to finish 5th or 7th and Danny, James A, James M should have expected to be around 9th.

Is this a fair expectation looking at the medals they have already achieved? I would be interested to hear if I am expecting too much, please comment.

If this is what could be expected then  even  performing below expectation should have brought home a medal (maybe two) and 3-4 5th/7th places but we didn’t.

I don’t think we should make excuses, I have read that two players in each weight group causes issues (Nicola Fairbrother) and even our own performance director has said this  “We have to look positively because the Olympic tournament will be half the numbers, with only one fighter from each country, if they qualify, which will make it a much more level playing field.” (Hick’s, August 2011). I would ask this, does a confident country pray for half the numbers? Shouldn’t we be confident with our judo team and the budget we have? Also, lets be honest, every country has the same problem! They all have to compete against two French, two Japanese etc and they don’t have the budget we do, many probably can’t afford to send two players in each weight group, which brings me on to the next topic….

Why did we not send a full team? No 48kg player, no +100 player, no -78 player. We also only sent one player in many of the weight groups, what about Sophie Johnson or Siobhan O’Neil at u52kg? Why not another -73kg player – Jan Gosiewski, Owen Liversy, Lee Shinkin? At u81kg they could have sent Tom Reed, David Groom, I could go on but this post is getting long!

I know some of the excuses that will coming back, Tom, Jan and Megan were at the university world championships just before is one, well okay maybe that is fair enough but I am sure a program could have been put in place. The other excuse is money, well firstly Paris is very close, secondly if you don’t have enough money in your £7.5m budget to send a full team to the world championships then maybe we need to consider someone else managing the budget?

Last thing on this, three players were brought out at the end of the competition for the teams Siobhan O’Neil, Matt Clempner and Matt Purssey – none of their weight groups had two players in from GB so why not fight them?

For me the players aren’t to blame, sure they could have done better but I don’t believe any of them stepped on the mat thinking “I don’t want to win” or “I’d rather be on COD”  and I certainly don’t think they had been out the night before or anything like that. I think they didn’t win for other reasons. In the next post I shall continue this blog topic considering the high performance directorate in British judo and the system within the UK.

Please comment, sorry the post got so long :p

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