With so much money pumped into the four-year Olympic cycle many have argued that Britain should have achieved more. With so much investment in psychologists, nutritionists and branding, has the core been forgotten? There is a need for actual coaching. Has the same also happened in business?
Questions have been asked on whether the athletes have the mental toughness to truly achieve greatness. It is an interesting suggestion and does make one question the current crop. Aside from Mo Farah, who has arguably been the country’s best athlete in recent years, there does seem to have been a lack of individual achievement.
Therefore is there also an absence of framework and support? Supporting personal development can lead to success – it is all about behaviours, values, communications and knowledge share.
Britain had been set a pre-championship target of six to eight medals, something that looked impossible until the final weekend of action. It was rescued just in time thanks to the relays.
Gold for the men’s sprint quartet, silver for the women. Silver for the women’s 4x400m team, bronze for the men. It was incredible to watch but has brought with it both doubt and hope as they were all team achievements rather than individual.
Why did Britain achieve more in the team competitions?
Background to individual’s competitions:
- There are 208 member nations of the IAAF – a more global championship than track cycling or rowing where British strives. 43 different nations won medals at London 2017.
- Five fourth-place finishes is an achievement but is not always celebrated.
- Athletes switch nationality for economic reasons and win medals for nations where they have never lived.
The difference with team competitions:
- Hours of drills and a tightness between athletics is something that cannot be faked or influenced by apparent drug taking.
Redemption and team spirit. Adam Gemili, who won gold in the 4x100m relay, claimed the foundations for their success were laid five years ago:
“2012 didn’t go our way and we have been working hard since then,” he said. “It’s a massive team effort and we win as a team and lose as a team. We are world champions at home. We will never get this feeling again.”
Mental toughness is an essential need for any sports player. It is an attitude that needs to be constructed and requires the mental ability to approach a challenge on a consistent basis.
British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith narrowly missed out on bronze in the 200m final. A great achievement but even more impressive given that Dina has had a gruelling season following a broken foot only six months ago. The 21-year-old would may have won her first global senior medal had her season not been decimated by the injury.
If Dina Asher-Smith can come back from this, why can’t others achieve similar accomplishments?
It is about character. The same can be said for businesses. It is important now to reinvest back into skills that are learnt outside of the ‘classroom’ and to support individuals to develop their own personal values.
Is the quality of coaching available good enough to develop promising juniors into successful seniors? If Britain has the best physios and facilities, shouldn’t the coaches match the high level of quality?
It also comes from the top. There are questions of the legacy being left by Ed Warner who is being succeeded by Richard Bowker as UK Athletics chair. Toni Minichiello, the former coach of Olympic and world champion Jessica Ennis-Hill has said his legacy will be the “destruction of coaching” and that Bowker has “three years to save the sport”. The criticism can be watched in a short video here.
Having the right framework and development is an essential need for sport and businesses. Investment in training is needed and often this must focus on individual development plans. A greater framework can support both knowledge share and stronger communications.
All of the questions shouldn’t take away the success of the Championship overall.
Over its 10 days, over 700,000 people went and watched – a record high. The diverse crowd was made up of families, kids and a blend of ethnicities that reflect sport-mad Britain.
There were also some incredible success and comeback stories at the Championships – Sally Pearson from a shattered wrist that almost led to amputation, Botswana Isaac Makwala from the norovirus he had during the Championship and South African long jump champion Luvo Manyonga from an addiction to crystal meth.
It was exciting Championship but sadly overshadowed by controversy and question marks around British coaching. There are solutions and more can be achieved. The next championship takes place in two years in Doha, Qatar. Both Britain and athletics must look for credibility as debates and conspiracy rumble on.
For more information: Ben.Butler@epmagazine.co.uk