It’s now Day 10 of the Olympics and I suppose if a coaching blog is going to comment at all it should find something that hasn’t already been said a million times. I think the words ‘amazing’ and inspiring’ need to be sidelined for lack of originality. So, here’s my thoughts for the day. Both are great case histories about long term perseverance and always looking to keep making small improvements, without ever throwing out the (sporting) baby with the bathwater. Firstly, British men’s gymnastics. Ina former working life I worked on National Governing Body programmes for the funding agencies behind elite sport. At the time there was a yawning gap between GB and the likes of China, USA, Russia and Ukraine– the first three all long term sporting superpowers. There were two constants – that the Olympic medal offer would stay capped at three (the Spanish call 4th place the Chocolate Medal but you’ll notice it doesn’t have a place on the podium), and that gymnastics would be the foundation of physical education (PE) development across the globe. So the dilemma was about continuing to support a 2nd tier performance sport in a seemingly unwinnable quest for success. But the funding continued and year by year progress was made, with the fantastic results achieved last week.
A similar lesson closer to home, in endurance running, with the case of Mo Farah. Always a prodigiously gifted junior between 2006 and 2009 he seemed to have plateaued, with his 5000m PB inching forward at one second per year and some way off the global elite of East Africa. He could easily have stayed as ‘just’ the best in Europe, scraping into finals but having neither the frightening level of endurance or the exhilarating turn of speed at the end of a race. But a series of training and lifestyle changes, some minor and some more significant, ensured that by 2011 he was right at the top of the pile, and as we await the Olympic 5000m where he will seek to double his 10k gold, he is likely to be the dominant figure around whom the other big hitters will plan their races.