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GB Canoeing Making Gains?

GB Canoeing "Making Gains"……?

 

I have lain off writing this year as I felt there were enough changes made within GB Canoeing that it was only reasonable to see if things improved. In some ways I think they have, in others not so much.

 

Then I read the reports on the GB Canoeing website from last weekends World Championships and came across all the usual post worlds dross and spin that accompany a mish mash of performances.

 

There were indeed some positives and I for one enjoyed seeing several of the athletes I know and respect, giving performances that showed real World Class quality and attitudes. Not all got the results they wanted, but the fight is there, and with that in place anything is possible.

 

It seems ,as usual though, that the GB Canoeing management cannot see the real picture, or possibly don’t want their readership and/or paymasters seeing the real picture.

 

John Anderson, in his summing up of the 2014 Worlds has several positive comments ranging from the delusional to the simply untrue. Perhaps he was watching a different regatta than the rest of us.

 

My favorite quote from the Walter Mitty of GB Canoeing is this;

 

“Its mid (Olympic) cycle but we are in a stronger position as a team on the Olympic events than we were 4 years ago”!!!

 

I have attached a spreadsheet with the facts below, but in short, this year we won, 1 Olympic event medal and made 5 Olympic event finals, we competed in 7 Olympic qualifying events, we reached Olympic qualification standard in 3 events.

 

4 Years ago, the same time in the previous cycle, we won medals in 4 Olympic events, made 5 Olympic event finals, competed in 11 Olympic qualifying events and reached qualification standard in 5 events.

 

How anyone can call this a stronger position is fantasy at best, but more likely just spin in the hope that nobody notices the reality.

 

The attitude of the GB management is offensive to those of us who love the sport and the athletes in it, it is delusional, and it is actually dishonest and deliberately so. Job justification is the highest priority here on an agenda that is both self serving and disrespectful.

 

The facts of the 2014 Worlds, and the performances in it are below.

 

We competed in a total of 14 of the 29 events available (as opposed to 19 four years ago), we made “Gains” in 4 of the possible 29 (compared to 4 years ago), only two of which were in Olympic events,  and made "losses" in 16 , comparing again to 2010. The remaining 9 no changes are made up of events we didn’t contest in either year or got the same result in both years.

 

(I have put the position in the event 4 years ago in red, in brackets, after the current position and shown whether the result is a loss or a gain on this stage in the last Olympic cycle)

 

Men's K1 200m, Ed McKeever 3rd. (1st) Loss

 

This to me is truly phenomenal, after a year in which Ed missed plenty of training time, to come back into an event this tightly contested and so reliant on confidence and to still be in the mix is outstanding. 

 

Men's K1 500. No entrant (4th) Loss

Men's K1 1000, No entrant (2nd) Loss

 

Men's K1 5000, Ed Rutherford 9th  (5th) Loss

 

Following last years 3rd place this could be seen as a set back but if you understand 5K racing, the tolerances are fine. Ed very nearly reached the lead V up the first leg, and, had he done that would have been well in the mix. He just missed and fell back to the 2nd group. 9th place is still a cracking result in a race filled with this quality.

 

Men's K1 relay, 3rd   (2nd) Loss

 

You can’t argue with a medal, our 200m squad remain strong and special note I think has to go to Kristian Reeves who has persisted over the last few years despite not quite breaking into a team, that is one of, if not the hardest to break into.

 

Men's K2 200m, 4th   (3rd) Loss

 

Maybe not the result to make the boys the happiest but Heath and Schofield are the most consistent pairing on the circuit. The “unbeatable” Russians lost confidence through the season having been bettered by the Germans and finished well down the final. Our guys though are there or thereabouts every time and in the big picture that has to pay dividends.

 

Men's K2 500, No entrant (10th) Loss

 

Men's K2 1000 Rutherford /Boyton (22nd (12th) Loss

 

This is disappointing, two young guys who 4 years ago were at the top end of the B Final now mid way down the C Final. Athletes to blame or a system that shunned them in 2011 and left them with no coach for lengthy periods since then? Considering our “professional” approach I do not think the management can deny their part in this weak result.

 

K4 1000, No entrant, (12th) Loss

 

4 years ago were just 2 places off the Olympic standard, the year before that we were in the A final with a qualifying position. In the 4 years that have followed our senior men's team have declined to such an extent that we no longer enter the event that would, in one hit, qualify us four Olympic spaces. Incompetence.

 

Men's C1 200.  No entrant (C Final swim) Loss

 

After the money that has been squandered on the charade of getting this event covered in 2012 it is a disgrace that we now don’t even have an athlete to contest it. Our “Olympic tourist” programme it seems is over, and now with the prospect of actually having to qualify by right we do not seem to have the people in place with the stomach for the fight.

 

Men's C1 500m No entrant

 

Men's C1 1000m James Styan (26th estimated on semi final result) Gain

 

This event was contested by an athlete who has not been part of the system, and for those I have the greatest respect. It is made very difficult for “outsiders” to qualify for anything or even to be seen by the blinkered eyes of the people who select. This athlete was even asking to borrow boats in the week leading up to the Worlds due to travel logistics, as the system would not hand out to non funded athletes! 

 

Men's C1 5000m No entrant

 

Men's C1 relay, No entrant

 

Men's C2 200m, No entrant

 

Men's C2 500, No entrant

 

Men's C2 1000, No entrant (15th) Loss

 

Men's C4 1000, No entrant

 

Women's K1 200 Hannah Brown 21st  (10th) Loss

 

Without doubt we have a strong Women's squad, the fact that we have athletes good enough to fill the events is very encouraging, where we spend our best athletes is a decision for the coaches. 21st is a good result in this event with an up and coming athlete.

 

Women's K1 500, Hayleigh Mason 17th   (3rd) Loss

 

Again this event was contested by an athlete who has found herself outside the programme. Just to qualify for this event was pretty special and was done in spectacular fashion at the European Championships just a few weeks ago. Life is tough outside the “chosen few” and I for one, (and I know there were many others) really enjoyed watching this race even if the result was not what the athlete wanted. Much respect to Hayleigh for getting as far as the startline.

 

Women's K1 1000, Rebi Simon (5th)   (4th) Loss

 

This event, that has for so long, and despite results in qualification ,been the birthright of the Talent ID athletes, was finally contested by someone who earned the place by right. The 5th place bearing in mind this athlete is still junior was phenomenal though not surprising as churning out good results seems to come naturally. Cats and pidgeons spring to mind! The next two years will be interesting!

 

Women's K1 5000, Louisa Sawers 1st  (7thGain

 

I really enjoyed this for so many reasons!! The athlete here may well have been physically honed by GB Canoeing but the reason this race was won was due to a marathon racing background and an upbringing at the best tactical club in the country. GB Canoeing owe Elmbridge Canoe Club a nod of thanks for this, their best result of the year! I can’t wait, as current Chairman, to receive the letter of thanks from John Anderson for our part in his teams success!!

A perfectly executed race by an athlete who I think has yet to show her full potential. Loved it!

 

Women's K1 200 relay 6th  (6th)

 

I have to admit to not even seeing this race yet but 6th is pretty good as far as I can tell.

 

Women's K2 200, Walker/Hannah 5th  (not contested) Gain

 

Though this event is not Olympic, the quality is there and 5th place is a good result, it is due to our depth of quality in the women's team that we have the numbers to contest events we have not always done in the past. This can only end well!

 

Women's K2 500 Belcher/Cawthorne 8th  (16th) Gain

 

This result almost seemed disappointing after some of the spectacular results during the year but 8th is a good result and only a couple of places from automatic qualification.

 

Women's K2 1000m No Entrant  (7th) Loss

 

Women's K4 500 7th  (5th) Loss

 

7th is enough to qualify for an Olympic spot, so reason to be cheerful there, but this boat has shown more than this, the 2011 result and race is still the best so far but it is good to see the boat heading in the right direction after the pre Olympic coaching debacle.

 

Women's C1 200, No entrant

 

Women's C2 500 No entrant..

 

For me the “man of the match” award has to go to Ed McKeever or Louisa Sawers. Limited to just one I would give it to Ed, not because the result is better but because I can understand how Louisa managed her result , I have no idea how Ed managed his result off the back of the year he had.

 

 

With all this in mind I would like to ask John Anderson exactly what he bases his statement on? Just a reminder……

 

“Its mid (Olympic) cycle but we are in a stronger position as a team on the Olympic events than we were 4 years ago”!!!

 

As an outsiders overview I would suggest a comment slightly closer to the truth would be…

 

It is good to see the Women's squad getting back to their form of three years ago before the monumental management blunder that destroyed their chances of Olympic success in 2012.

 

The men's 200m squad continue to be the most reliable squad worldwide and have maintained their status as one of the best teams in the World.

 

The Men's 1000m team and the Canoe team, considering the amount of resources and staff we have, must be considered an abject failure, the men's 1000m team are now in a considerably worse position than this time in the last Olympic cycle and the Canoe team have made no progress despite the resources spent on them for the last 4 years. Our only canoe representative was not even on the GB Canoeing programme!

 

To put the whole thing in perspective, we probably have more staff on our squad than New Zealand have paddlers in their entire country, yet they managed to finish 10 places ahead of us in the medal table. We have one of the biggest budgets in the canoe sprint world but still cannot produce a team across the classes. 

 

“Making Gains”? You decide!

 

John Anderson, please stop lying to us and deliberately trying to deceive the people you need to impress. Get a grip of the real situation and stop papering over the cracks, your athletes and the rest of the British canoeing public deserve better. There is a weak link in this programme that needs addressing.

 

And finally (but not for the first time) can I ask that when you name athletes in your articles on GB Canoeing and say where they come from, they invariably come from a CLUB not from a town! Rebi and Louisa for example come from Elmbridge Canoe Club, to say they come from Walton-On-Thames is technically true but not very helpful to anyone reading the article who wants to get into the sport. Living in Walton-On-Thames is no help to your canoeing career, whereas joining a canoe club probably is. All your athletes come from Canoe Clubs, it would be good to acknowledge that fact occasionally and give credit where it is due. You and your underperforming system did not create these people you are only using them.

 

When you consider that back in 2012 GB Canoeing Mission Statement was..

 

To be the number 1 Olympic Canoeing Nation with strength and depth of excellence at every level.

You have to ask the management how they think they are getting along with this?

 

 

Rant over!

 

Should anyone like to take issue with anything written in this article and write one of their own to show that GB Canoeing actually is in a stronger position than it was this time in the previous cycle I will happily post it on my site.

 

 

OLYMPIC CYCLE REVIEW

 

 

2010

2014

GAIN

LOSS

Men

K1 200

1st

3rd

N

Y

 

K1 500

4th

No Entry

N

Y

 

K1 1000

2nd

No Entry

N

Y

 

K1 5000

5th

9th

N

Y

 

K1 Relay

2nd

3rd

N

Y

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

K2 200

3rd

4th

N

Y

 

K2 500

10th

No Entry

N

Y

 

K2 1000

12th

22nd

N

Y

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

K4 1000

12th

No Entry

N

Y

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C1 200

19-27th

No Entry

N

Y

 

C1 500

No Entry

No Entry

N

N

 

C1 1000

No Entry

26th (est)

Y

N

 

C1 5000

No Entry

No Entry

N

N

 

C1 Relay

No Entry

No Entry

N

N

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C2 200

No Entry

No Entry

N

N

 

C2 500

No Entry

No Entry

N

N

 

C2 1000

15th

No Entry

N

Y

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C4 1000

No Entry

No Entry

N

N

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women

K1 200

10th

21st

N

Y

 

K1 500

3rd

17th

N

Y

 

K1 1000

4th

5th

N

Y

 

K1 5000

7th

1st

Y

N

 

K1 Relay

6th

6th

N

N

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

K2 200

No Entry

5th

Y

N

 

K2 500

16th

8th

Y

N

 

K2 1000

7th

No Entry

N

Y

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

K4 500

5th

7th

N

Y

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C1 200

No Entry

No Entry

N

N

 

C2 500

No Entry

No Entry

N

N

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Medals

5

3

 

 

 

Olympic Medals

4

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Finals

10

8

 

 

 

Olympic Finals

5

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Events contested

19/29

14/29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GAINS / LOSSES

 

 

4

16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aggregate GAINS

 

-12

 

 

 


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