GB boxers set up for success
Certainly Terry Spinks, a gold medallist at the 1956 Olympics and one of an array of former Olympians who stare down at the London 2012 hopefuls from huge posters at the state-of-the-art facility, never did.
The 18-year-old Spinks was collecting bins at the Albert Dock in East London a week before his late call-up for the Melbourne Games, a lack of money the reason given for his original omission.
No energy drinks in the Albert Dock caffs and no nutritionists, just a cup of tea and maybe an appetite-curbing fag. No physio, no conditioning or lifestyle coach, no video-analyst, and the nearest Spinks would have come to psychology was the odd rocket from his trainer.
The members of the 12-man GB squad for the European Championships, which start in Moscow on Friday, will be more professional than most professionals, with round-the-clock monitoring four or five days a week and a regular, if modest, income.
Performance director Rob McCracken, who was appointed to the role last November, said his charges "can't have more opportunity of being a success" and that "nothing is left to chance" on his watch. Nutritionist Mark Ellison, who also works for Manchester United, said "not many programmes have got it better".
"Surely it's one of the best gyms in the world, there's not much it hasn't got," agreed Antony Ogogo, who will compete at middleweight in Moscow. "It's a bit different from the Triple A gym in Lowestoft, the ring there's not even square."
"I've boxed all over the world and trained all over the world and there's nowhere like this," said light-welterweight Bradley Saunders, who competed in Beijing and witnessed the disintegration of the previous regime, with Terry Edwards departing as head coach and a host of Olympians turning pro.
The dismissal of Edwards, who led Britain to three medals in Beijing, was roundly criticised at the time and Saunders said he was "very sad to see him go". But even Saunders had to admit McCracken had "changed everything for the better", while other boxers told me they responded better to McCracken's more serene approach.
"Last year you didn't know whether you were coming or going a lot of the time," added Saunders, from Stockton-on-Tees. "But Rob's come in and put everything into place."
Ogogo, a two-weight senior ABA champion, added: "Compared to Terry, Rob is so much calmer. Rob just makes everything so simple and is a nice guy to have around."
McCracken, who also trains former WBC super-middleweight world champion Carl Froch, said the boxers "needed direction" when he arrived and to that end he has made the training more bespoke. The work-load has been cut, always a popular move, and the boxers now work in shifts, ensuring more one-to-one tuition with the programme's five full-time coaches.
"You'll be sparring with someone and you'll have your own coach and he'll have his own coach, so it's more of a bout situation," said the 21-year-old Ogogo. "The same trainer will then do the pads and the bag with you, so the mistakes you were making in the spar you can go and rectify straightaway."
The elite 'podium squad' under McCracken has also been expanded (it currently contains 21 boxers), a move to "keep everyone on their toes" and a move that has already led to one or two awkward moments, but good awkward moments, the kind every coach aspires to.
"They need a kid at the same weight who's pushing them," said former British middleweight champion McCracken, who turned down the chance to represent his country at the Barcelona Olympics in order to turn pro. "You can't relax and think 'I'm OK, there's no-one on the horizon who's going to challenge me'."
The featherweight division is developing into a real bun-fight, with Bournemouth's Iain Weaver picked ahead of Luke Campbell for Moscow, despite Campbell winning Britain's first European Championship gold for 47 years as a bantamweight in 2008. Meanwhile, Martin Ward won the ABA title at the same weight last month, although he is set to move up a division.
"It is awkward sometimes, like when they told me I was going and then seeing Luke and knowing he'd been told he wasn't," said the 20-year-old Weaver, who landed silver at the prestigious Prime Ministry tournament in Turkey in April.
"But every training session I know I have to perform, keep my head down and stay out of trouble. The Olympics are not far off, the first qualifiers are only next year."
Added Ogogo: "You've got to remember, they want my spot, so while we're all friends at the minute, I don't know if it's going to be the same in 18 months' time! But we've got that competitive edge in the gym, which is what you need."
With the eyes of Spinks and Co following his every move like portraits in an art gallery, Weaver says London 2012, the ultimate goal for most of the current crop, is difficult to escape. "You look up and see the past medal winners, so you're always thinking about it," he said. "And when you're tired on the bag, you keep going because it's all for the Olympics."
McCracken readily admits the countdown to London begins in Moscow, and is acutely aware "the British public are funding and the British public are watching".
World-class facilities bring hope and hope brings pressure. And unlike in the movies, the British public, strict judges that they are, will be expecting these little Dragos to win.