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UK Athletics

Athletes give boost to coaching and support services

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17 March 2008


UK Athletics today welcomed the endorsement of UK Sport's independent  'Mission 2012 ' evaluation of its World Class Programme .


With less than five months to go until the start of the Beijing Olympics, a major independent survey has found key elements of the UK's elite performance system are delivering for Britain's best young athletes. 

The survey, carried out by the Sheffield Hallam University as part of UK Sport's new 'Mission 2012' project, shows that:


• nine out of ten athletes are currently happy with the coaching they personally receive,

• 85% are pleased with the overall services they get from their sport - including sports science and medicine, equipment and overseas training opportunities.   

The coaching finding is particularly encouraging given that in 2003 only seven out of ten gave a positive approval rating to the coaching they received through the World Class programme. There is still room for improvement however with:


• 75% of athletes surveyed saying that the programme in their sport is well led.

• Two thirds say that morale is high among the athletes in their sport, with more positive findings coming from athletes in Olympic sports.


The survey also highlights how important National Lottery funding remains to our aspiring Olympians and Paralympians:


• Nine out of ten athletes say that without their 'Athlete Personal Award' from UK Sport, they would be unable to commit fully to their training and competition programme. 

• Athletes are still having to make sacrifices however, with one in three 'Podium' athletes estimating that their sport costs them around £10,000 a year of their own money.


The results came on the day that UK Sport unveiled "Mission 2012", its first state of the nation assessment of how Olympic and Paralympic sports are faring ahead of both Beijing and London 2012. Mission 2012 has been designed to take the 'traffic light' approach to measuring progress of the UK's sports against their Olympic and Paralympic ambitions.


The results for the first quarter of 2008 show that a good number of sports - 11 Olympic and 5 Paralympic - are showing that they are well placed to deliver against their potential, with green traffic lights in each of the three dimensions that look at athletes, the system that sits behind them and the performance climate within the sport. Through Mission 2012, other sports have also shown progress but spotted potential obstacles which will threaten delivery in Beijing and London if they are not addressed.

The results show that around half of the Olympic sports feel that they are on track in terms of performances on the field of play - 'green' lighting' their athlete dimensions. Sports' governing bodies have identified that the area requiring most attention is the 'system' that sits behind our top performers - not surprising given that a number of sports are either gearing up following an increase in funding or are in receipt of world class programme support for the first time.


John Steele, UK Sport's Chief Executive explained that the move marked a critical step in the organisation's drive to ensure that the nation would have plenty to celebrate at London 2012:

"Two years ago the Government announced a £600m funding package for British Olympic and Paralympic sport to deliver something special at London 2012. It is vital that, collectively, we deliver not just medal winning performances in London but also on this one-off opportunity to transform the sporting landscape in the UK. We have taken on an enormous task but one that is achievable and Mission 2012 is about giving ourselves every chance of delivering."


"The fact that the athletes themselves are largely happy with their current situation is good news. But Mission 2012 highlights that there is some work still to do in the system, which is a timely reminder that there is no room for complacency in high-performance sport.   What that demonstrates is the continued need for all of us to work together to develop a performance system that ensures-tomorrow's athletes are even better supported than today's."


Minister for Sport, Gerry Sutcliffe, was also pleased with the new initiative:

"We are investing a record amount of public money into elite sport in the run up to London 2012 so I am glad to hear that the vast majority of athletes are happy with the support they are getting from UK Sport and their respective sports governing bodies. 


"'Mission 2012' is working well and is vital to ensure that sports are making progress in both performance and governance terms.  This can only help in ensuring that Team GB is in the best possible shape for medal success at London 2012."


In outlining the results, Steele was quick to praise sports for embracing the concept and their willingness to address the issues that had emerged:


"Mission 2012 has taken the approach of breaking down performance sport into its key elements and reflecting honestly on the role that each one plays and how it is currently performing. Not only has the process kick-started a whole new dialogue between UK Sport and the sports we work with, but it has taught us much about how we can improve the way we support sports in the future, with some early promise of a few quick wins."


Commenting on the review, UK Athletics Performance Director Dave Collins said


"Given the fact that going back to the start of this Olympic cycle there were serious and valid  concerns about the performance of the sport, it is pleasing to receive such positive feedback now.  Root and branch change has been effected ,  imposing structural performance management discipline across what is traditionally a very individual sport.   The pace of change will increase again  as  more and more of our top athletes and coaches committing themselves to our High Performance Centres and team training camps.


 "To gain support and endorsement from the Mission 2012 panel members   shows just how far the programme has moved on in the last two years and is a tremendous boost to  my  Performance Team. We now need to press on and continue this progress as we build towards Beijing and London 2012.” 


Chief Executive Niels de Vos added;


"As CEO I welcomed the decision taken by UK Sport to introduce independent scrutiny of how  effectively  we are investing UK Sport money in our push for medals.  We expect our athletes to submit to performance management and as the governing body we should expect the same".