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Groundhog day!

Groundhog day!

 

Is it Groundhog day, déjà vu or just another year at GB Canoeing??

 

With about 8 weeks to go to the most important race of the 4 year cycle we are once again scrabbling around trying to make the best of a job we should have been doing for the last 2 .5 years.

 

Having not raced our flagship women's K4 in the early season, presumably because everything was so well organized we only needed to show up later in the season, we found to our surprise (depending who you were) that the boat had actually slipped down the rankings rather than moving up. Had it raced early season we could have found this out much sooner. Instead we chose, as always, to believe our own hype and self congratulatory BS. 

 

Now reality hits and panic is the only option open to us. Individual trials of the women are planned for this week. Once those are over the 4 best contenders ( assuming no internal bias as there was in 2012) will be ready to spend the remaining 8 weeks of a 3 year build up period trying to get  the crew to perform together for the single most important race of the 4 year cycle.

 

If we succeed the reward is Olympic qualification, not medals at the Games themselves, just attendance at the event. If we fail, not only will we not have a K4 in Rio but will not then be able to make a K2 from those 4 and if Rachael is distracted from the K1, with the tolerances as fine as they are, then we could well see ourselves with no representation at all. All this from a group of women who 4 years ago so very nearly won the World Championships in this very event. 

 

That was of course under the coaching of Miklos Simon, who was subsequently moved aside to make way for a corporate climber who needed to associate himself with a successful team. This climber succeeded fully, not in getting a great result, (Miklos was called in to plug the gap with 8 weeks to go…..sound familiar?) but he got his promotion to another sport and is now to be seen on TV taking credit for Ed McKeevers Gold in 2012. Bingo!! Since that time Miklos has been consistently and deliberately sidelined and been described as being “not the full package” in relation to his coaching abilities. 

 

Now here we are 3 years down the line, all the superior coaches they have tried in the intervening period have got us to where we are and what is happening now?? Miklos is being recruited to turn the sows ear into a silk purse and is going to be expected to do it in 8 weeks. Management have consistently made bad decisions with this section of the team and here we are. Miklos , it seems, remains the go to man when the chips are down,,, either he is the best man for the job or he isn’t, someone has to decide!! I know where I sit.

 

From the sports and the athletes viewpoint we can only hope that the Miklos Magic is strong enough to make the difference. If it is not then the consequences are going to be severe. Who pays the price? Initially the athletes who have given their best under very strict performance requirements, then our sport itself (if you believe funding is crucial to success), management themselves will remain untouched as they move onward and upward after Rio. Moving to a ship that isn’t sinking or even better, move on to do the full “Tony Blair” and get into motivational or after dinner speaking where people pay good money to hear them blow smoke up their own backsides, good money to hear lies and BS about how they turned GB Canoeing into one of the “Top Canoeing Nations with strength and depth at every level”. There is no more receptive audience than one that knows nothing about your subject. GB Canoeing have thrived on this for years sending positive spin up the chain of command, why stop now?

 

The time is coming increasingly near when the two sides of our sport, the “professional” and the volunteers need to realize that working together is the only option. We have always been able to produce World beaters, we have the ability by working together to do it again. It is time to all sit down together acknowledge the mistakes of the past and come up with a solution that we can all be part of. A solution that is equally inspirational to both sides with inclusion, equality and respect (earned, not bestowed). Only when everyone is on board with a common goal and mutual reward can we make the most of our resources.  There can no longer be the them and us scenario that has proved so devisive and limited in it’s success. We need to make use of every knowledgeable person we have, every person we have who is prepared to put in the time, reward results and respect opinions. Appointemts need to be made on evidence and results, not personality and corporate compliance. Education must become the key feature of the system in the future, not relying on wringing the last bit of life from our existing stars but producing young stars to replace them on a consistent basis with a plan, a structure, and a future. 

 

There are a lot of good people on the outside willing to do their bit, all they are waiting for is the opportunity to be heard. We need to work out the best way forward beyond Rio and for that there needs to be open and honest discussion.

There is probably not time for this between now and the World Championships but when the dust has settled and hopefully the fan is not covered in shit we need to have a mutually beneficial chat!

 

Good luck to all the girls….may they be treated fairly and according to their ability. Hopefully personal and corporate views will be set aside during this process so that the sport as a whole is the ultimate winner!

 

 


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