Athletes' Commission unveils reportSubscribe
Rob Burgess 15 March 2001
THE BRITISH Olympic Association’s Athletes’ Commission launched the Sydney 2000 Report at the Sports Café in London today. The Report is the culmination of two surveys undertaken with athletes short-listed to represent Great Britain in Sydney, the majority of whom went on to compete at the Games.
Greg Whyte, outgoing Chair of the Commission and a former leading Modern Pentathlete, introduced the Report. He was joined by Guin Batten, incoming Chair of the Commission; Miriam Batten, British Olympic Association (BOA) Athlete Services Manager; Tim Foster, Olympic rowing Gold medallist; and Iain Percy who won a sailing Gold in Sydney.
The Report, the first to be conducted in the 'Lottery-funded era’, was made up of two separate postal questionnaires. The first was sent to athletes on the final BOA short-list prior to Sydney, and the second to members of Team GB after the Games. 427 responses were received.
WHYTE EMPHASISED the difference that Lottery funding has made in the four years since the Atlanta Olympics, and the need for the focus to shift to other areas that require investment: "The Lottery has made a big difference - there is no doubt about that. But the key message arising from the Report is the need to improve facilities and the access to them. We do have some outstanding facilities – the Velodrome in Manchester is one example – but we don’t have enough of them."
Guin Batten, incoming Chair of the Commission, commented on her new position: "The primary role of the Chair is to interpret the messages coming out of this report, and deliver them to the key sporting agencies in the UK. We have identified the four main areas arising from the Report, and we will be taking the recommendations of our Olympic athletes to those agencies over the next few months."
WHYTE HIGHLIGHTED the four areas for action resulting from the report: Finance 87% of the athletes believed that Lottery funding has had a positive impact. The Report makes recommendations on the distribution of the funding, for example to take into account training costs and external factors such as London-weighting.
Facilities Although 78% of respondents had access to good quality local sports facilities, there is a strong need for more sport-specific facilities. The advent of Lottery funding, which has allowed many athletes to train full-time, has also highlighted the fact that access to existing facilities needs improvement.
Coaching The respondents were pleased with the number of high quality coaches in the UK. Many of these coaches are recruited from abroad. The Report recommends that a system is implemented to a) produce a long-term supply of British coaches, and b) allow for the fast tracking of talented athletes into coaching set-ups.
Doping "The athletes strongly support a hard-line stance on doping, and life-bans for athletes who commit an offence," commented Whyte. The Report recommends that more emphasis is placed on providing information about substances athletes can take, rather than substances they cannot. Account also needs to be taken of the fact that many athletes now train abroad and need information on foreign substances as well as those available in the UK.