Dick is push­ing for coach­ing shake-up

The Herald - Herald Sport - - World Championships - DOUG GILLON

BRI­TAIN’S ath­let­ics coaches have been marginalised and that is at the root of the prob­lems fac­ing the sport, claims the Scot who presided over a per­ceived golden age.

Frank Dick be­lieves his suc­ces­sor has got it wrong, and he has met Ed Warner, chair of UKAth­let­ics, urg­ing him to re­struc­ture. “You need a head of coach­ing,” he said. “With all due re­spect to Dave Collins, he is not a coach. He is the per­for­mance di­rec­tor.

“Look at the set-up in row­ing, one of Bri­tain’s most suc­cess­ful sports. You have David Tan­ner as per­for­mance di­rec­tor, but you have Jur­gen Grob­ler as head coach. Th­ese aren’t the same jobs, and in ath­let­ics we are now mov­ing so far from the re­la­tion­ship that the sys­tem should be ath­lete-cen­tred, coach-led, and per­for­mance-fo­cused, the ef­fect on the coach-ath­lete re­la­tion­ship is not as ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive as it should be.

“I feel we need a head coach in place for Bei­jing next year, to work along­side the per­for­mance di­rec­tor. Coaches and coach­ing are be­ing marginalised, and that’s re­flected in re­sults. We have to re­build con­fi­dence in the sys­tem, and make coaches feel val­ued.

“I sus­pect we are about to ex­pe­ri­ence our worst World Cham­pi­onships. Does that mean our ath­letes can’t run, jump or throw, that we can’t coach, and that our science is all wrong? No. I don’t be­lieve that for a minute. But we do need some in­ter­ven­tion if Lon­don 2012 is not to be a huge dis­ap­point­ment.”

Dick over­saw an era which em­braced Da­ley Thom­son as Olympic, World, Euro­pean, and Com­mon­wealth de­cathlon cham­pion, Scot­tish Olympic sprint cham­pion Al­lan Wells, and mid­dle dis­tance supremacy through the likes of Seb Coe, Steve Ovett, Steve Cram, and Peter El­liott, all of whom set world records.

“Th­ese achieve­ments kicked off with a new coached­u­ca­tion sys­tem un­der Den­nis Watts and John Le Mesurier, sparked by the fact that we had won just one Olympic ath­let­ics bronze medal in 1976,” added Dick. “The coach­ing and de­vel­op­ment struc­ture was not right, and I be­lieve it’s the same now.”

Dick, who is pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Ath­let­ics Coaches’As­so­ci­a­tion, claims sig­nif­i­cant re­sources are not used to best ad­van­tage. “Re­ly­ing on science to the ex­tent we do is not the an­swer. Of course it is an im­por­tant el­e­ment, but the no­tion that high per­for­mance can be achieved by some kind of math­e­mat­i­cal equa­tion is wrong. It is not the an­swer and it never will be.”

Warner, who con­firmed he had spo­ken to Dick, re­jected his ar­gu­ments. “I don’t think the com­par­i­son is fair,” he said. “Row­ing is es­sen­tially a sin­gle dis­ci­pline, over the same dis­tance. You can have a sin­gle camp. We are a multi-dis­ci­pline sport. There’s not a lot to con­nect throws, jumps, and run­ning, let alone dis­tances from sprints to marathon.

“We do have a per­for­mance di­rec­tor who’s not a coach, but he has un­der­neath him se­nior coaches for each of the main dis­ci­plines. One of the dif­fi­cul­ties of lot­tery fund­ing is that it cre­ates haves and have-nots. The vast num­ber of coaches are vol­un­teers.

“We will, soberly, care­fully, re­flec­tively, re­view ev­ery as­pect of the plan in the light of th­ese cham­pi­onships. But if Frank is say­ing we don’t care about coaches, I think that’s dross. We do.

“Com­par­isons with the past are in­valid for many rea­sons. Com­pe­ti­tion is much more in­tense, many more ath­let­ics na­tions, the emer­gence, of real strength in depth in Africa over the past 20 years. It’s much tougher, from all the sta­tis­ti­cal anal­y­sis, to win a medal in a ma­jor cham­pi­onships now than it was 20 or 30 years back. The sport is pro­fes­sional in a dif­fer­ent way now. Most ma­jor na­tions now have pro­fes­sional struc­tures sim­i­lar to ours.

“I’m not be­lit­tling the achieve­ments of the past. As a fan I cheered them. But I don’t think you can repli­cate th­ese old struc­tures and think you are go­ing to repli­cate that suc­cess now.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.