BBC BLOGS - Ollie Williams

Archives for September 2010

Canoeists prepare to make their biggest move

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Ollie Williams | 17:28 UK time, Friday, 10 September 2010

"You move your family and you move away from friends. But if you're serious about achieving at London 2012, then there is no choice."

Jurg Gotz, the head coach of the British slalom canoeing team, is preparing to lead his charges down the M1 from Nottingham to London this November.

The team are leaving Nottingham's National Water Sports Centre behind in favour of permanently relocating to Lee Valley, where the slalom course for 2012 is nearing completion. Once it is finished, the British team will have daily access to their home Olympic course, an advantage which could be crucial to their medal prospects.

But, for all the opportunity it affords, the move is just as stressful and complicated for Britain's canoeists as it would be for anyone else.

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Fighting back: will British judo's drastic overhaul work?

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Ollie Williams | 21:15 UK time, Tuesday, 7 September 2010

A decade of under-performance at the Olympic Games has forced British judo to take a gamble.

The British squad returned from the Beijing Games in 2008 without a medal, one of the few major disappointments of an otherwise successful outing for Team GB, to face radical alterations to the way their sport worked.

In came a new head coach and sweeping changes to their preparation ahead of London 2012, drastically limiting the number of competitions in which they fought in favour of more time spent training.

Some of the team are delighted with the post-Beijing arrangements, but fewer tournaments has meant fewer ranking points for many up-and-coming British stars, who now face a tough time against the top seeds whenever they do turn up.

One member of the team, Sarah Clark, told me late last year that Britons were "getting hammered in the rankings" which in turn made it difficult for them to prove themselves.

Results at this week's World Championships, in Tokyo, will be an early indicator of how successful judo's reinvention has been - and other sports will be looking on.

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