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Is GB athletics still in a bad state?

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What did you think of the extraordinary performance from Tasha Danvers?

Just two days ago, the inquest was about to start as to why British athletics had failed in Beijing.

Time for a reassessment?

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posted Aug 20, 2008

Lets be honest about it, GB athletics is probably close to being at an all time low and although we get the occasional Gold we are far removed from the world force we were 15 or 20 years ago. People have said that Cycling and Rowing are minority sports but when you look at the investment in these sports they have produced far better returns. The current lotery grants are.

Athletics 26.5M 4 medals 6.625M/ medal
Rowing 26M 7 medals 3.710M/ medal
Swimming 20.7M 6 medals 3.450M/ medal
Sailing 22.3M 5 medals 4.500M/ medal
Cycling 22.2M 15 medals 1.480M/ medal

I think the "minority" sports have more than justified their lottery grants. I know we still have chances to produce medals but unles something major is done before 2012 we might just find ourselves in the position we are today. In my opinion setting a target for our athletes of 5 medals is not only an insult to their dedication and training but is hardly conducive to their motivation and aspirations.

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posted Aug 21, 2008

World Force we were 15-20 years ago?

1992 (16 years ago)

2 Gold Christie/Gunnell
2 Bronze Backley/Akabusi
2 Relay Bronze.

Somebody get 1Wattie's rose tinted historical spectacles off now.

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comment by BigGut (U1688772)

posted Aug 21, 2008

Just so everybody ahs some context here the main protagonists Tim, James and Jim are all anti having UKA centres where athletes go to train in UKA groups. they instead want the money to be given to them, the coahces and clubs to do it on a ridiculous premise that this will make us great again. It is quite clear that focussed centres is the way forward, but them and there buddies are totally against the idea.

As for this being a poor return, well we won no golds in 1988, and have nly won 6 medals of any colour at any of the following games. So let's just wait and see. people seem to have some ridiculous notion that we should be winning loads of medals, why? apart from one freak in Tokyo and the two boycott games we never have before and the world is far more competitive now.

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posted Aug 21, 2008

I have deliberately avoided getting involved in some of the pettier, name calling type squabbles that occassionally break out various forums - prefering intelligent, fact based debate.

However, when someone who hides behind the anonymity of a forum pseudonym starts questioning my integrity then I feel I should respond.

Let's start at the beginning. Jim Cowan is my real name. I am happy to stand up and be counted for any postings I make. When I point the finger people know who is pointing and can respond if I am wrong or unfair. I am not someone who hides from debate. I certainly do not hide behind an alias while pointing my finger at others.

I have never stated that I want UKA to give "the money" to me, to coaches or to clubs. I have stated that clubs and coaches should be considered for better support than they currently get and that would include funding.

Getting coaching right is the bedrock on which success in athletics will be built. UKA admit their coach education programme is poor. Indeed, it failed UKCC validation three times. Well educated, competent coaches in as many 'training centres' as possible will provide a broad base of talent development devoid of geographical luck. In days gone by those 'training centres' had a name - clubs.

By focusing solely on a few athletes in a few centres while neglecting the education of future coaches (for future athletes) and undermining the wider geographical spread of opportunity will only produce a pyramid with a very narrow base which is unlikely to support a high peak.

Get the base right and training groups will gravitate to the coaches who deliver. Coaches like Ron Roddan, Harry Wilson, Bruce Longden are testament to this.

However, as I have posted elsewhere, complex problems are rarely solved by over simplified solutions and that is the base of most of my criticism of UKA. In a decade of being the athletics NGB they have yet to produce a strategy for the development of athletics worthy of the name.

In the early 90's they produced 'Fun to Fulfillment' a very glossy, aspirational document in which many of the aims were laudable. Sadly it fell very short of its targets principally by virtue of the fact that no where had it covered how these numerous dreams would be achieved. Fun to Fulfillment 'expired' in 2005. UKA have not puplished a strategy for the development of athletics since. Please, do not take my word for it, go to their website and check.

Without a cohesive strategy (into which the sport buy in) the rest are disconnected initiatives which it is hoped might succeed rather than an integrated planned approach based on evidential need. As Vince Lombardi said, "he who fails to prepare, prepares to fail".

UKA are unaccountable. The sport is allowed no say over its own destiny. Compare this to the oft criticised FA who recently conducted the largest ever consultation exercise in the history of British sport and used it to inform a strategy which will move football on significantly in the next decade. Yes, they have lots of money, but they also understand that those who make up a sport must share a sense of ownership.

UKA's equivalent opportunity a couple of years ago, 'Moving On' (often referred to as the Foster Report) consulted with one (yes, one) active athlete and with clubs by invitation only. Often referred to as an independent report, it emerged later that the author was in the employ of Sport England.

Moving On led directly to the imposition of England Athletics on the sport. When it became apparent to UKA that a democratic vote on the acceptance of Foster's proposals would be voted out by English clubs, they invited Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish clubs to vote on England's future! One wonders how Scotland would feel if the favour was returned?

Not withstanding, I have tried to work with UKA. I have given reams of feedback on coaching courses, all of which has been ignored. I have offered to rewrite modules free of charge (not quite the same thing as wanting them to give the money to me) only to be told UKA would rather give a second chance to those who cocked it up in the first place.

My principle motivation is a love of athletics. The sport has given me many great experiences, lots of good friends and much more over the years. It is UKA who don't work with me, not the other way around. However I admit I have stopped contacting them of late, you can only bang your head against a wall for so long. I haven't hidden away though, UKA have my number, my email and my address.

I even contemplated walking away from the sport but couldn't. it is in my blood (literally - my father was an athlete before me).

I may disagree with England Athletics lack of democracy and how they came about but my motivation to help athletes and coaches comes ahead of that and I have (and will be over the coming winter) held workshops with them aimed at sharing many of the lessons I have learned over the years.

I'm not hiding behind anonymity. This is me, wanting the best for athletics. Wanting proper strategic planning, high quality coaching, strong clubs and club competition and world class competitors in a sport that is open to all to take part in.

If that is a "ridiculous premise" then this is a very sad world indeed!

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posted Aug 21, 2008


I know who you are, but I don't bang on about it, try to dig into your family members or your occupation and then publish infomration about it on a forum without moderation in a vindictive fashion, so you are pretty safe not using a psuedonym. If only Atheltics Daily members were interested in what was being said rather than trying to do the above maybe I woudl consider not using a psuedonym. hwoever, whilst that sor t of vindictive behaviour is apparent from a group I really wouldn't feel like putting my family at risk.

Hope you understand why I will not be foregoing my psuedonym.

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posted Aug 22, 2008

Hi spikes,

Fully understand. I'm not knocking the use of pseudonyms I simply choose not to use one. I know I sometimes say some pretty contentious stuff and feel it is appropriate people know who is saying it - in others words I am being accountable for anything I say.

Hiding behind a pseudonym while attacking the integrity of someone who is open and honest about who they are and what their views are is a different matter altogether. That I do not condone, and that applies to all points of view, not just those I agree with!

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posted Aug 22, 2008

I sort of disagree with you a bit Jim.

If a prominent opponent of UKA, has identified himself and and then produceds factually incorrect figures to argue a point, I think it only right to poitn out the person's bias, if his current atheltics related position may be shown to cause the bias.

For my case, I have no position within atheltics beyodn my local club, have never worked for any governing body or organisation within athletics other than my club in a paid or voluntary capacity and my employer does nothing to do with atheltics. My own personal background is irrelevant to pretty much any discussion. My comments are not htere to benefit any particular perosn or organisation.

But if someone else has chosen to idnetify themsleves and make known there own achievements in an attempt to make their poitn appear more valid then surely pointing out their bias via their positions held, failed election bids, personal grudges with Presidents of an organisation is valid balancing of thier own agrandising of their viewpoint.

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posted Aug 22, 2008

Why don't you just sddress the issues?

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posted Aug 23, 2008

Hi again Spikes.

I'm happy for you or anyone else to take a proverbial swing at me based on any or all of the reasons on your list.

Positions held? You must be referring to ABAC? That's a democratically elected position in a organisation that consults its members on decisions and policy. Is there a specific decision or policy you wish to discuss (details on

Failed election bids? I've never had any.

Personal grudges with Presidents of an organisation? Don't have any, life's too short for grudges. Besides, I think Lynn Davies is a decent man. I do have differing views to senior oficers within UKA on a number of things and am happy to discuss them. They aren't.

Factually incorrect figures? Please be specific.

BTW, I log on here as Jim Cowan and views expressed are my own. Of course, that doesn't mean many others don't share them.

As for self agrandisment, making any of my own achievements known in an attempt to make my own points more valid, if you can point to where I have done that, please do.

I respect not only your view but also your right to have differing views to my own as I hope you do me. Unfortunately we have a Governing Body in UKA who won't even entertain differing views even in the face of measures lowered for and accepted by them they have failed.

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posted Aug 23, 2008


Back to your question which triggered this thread, now we know athletics has failed to reach the target of 5 medals how do you feel about the need for an inquest?

Let's have a honest, open, transparent review. We have nothing to lose by it and if, following an honest, open, transparent process the feeling is UKA have it right and have done all they could then fine.

I don't think that would be the result of such a review others do. Do we find out now or wait until after 2012? It is the only way to settle the 'squabbles', the only way of starting to find a way of getting different opinions starting to pull together to a shared direction.

But it should be (at the risk of repeating myself) honest, open and transparent; not a repeat of the Foster Report.

After all, what do we have to lose?

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