Jess and Nikita on the track

Jess and Nikita Take to the Track

We’re at that time of year when sport in the UK (and not just football) seems to be everywhere; Wimbledon, Cricket, the Tour de France, Euro 2016 and the European Athletics Championships. Not forgetting the looming spectre of the quadrennial sporting colossus, the Olympics.

People who wouldn’t normally dream of doing such things dust off bikes, grab tennis rackets and start running, throwing and jumping. Every advert seems to have a sporting connection, however tenuous, and the media stoke the public’s sporting ardour. We all want to see our sporting stars perform and interest gets whipped up into fervor.

The sum total of the above, this Sunday morning, is that whilst the ‘keenos’ are already putting the hard yards in, the majority of people (including me) are slowly shaking off the head fog of the previous night, sipping tea and coffee, reading the papers and talking about sport.

“…I worry if a lot of what you’re seeing is actually high performance, people performing at their very best who are the best…”

And here’s the rub for Toni. Not people’s interest, far from it. We’ve spent many a pleasant, wasted hour re-designing various national sporting teams. Talking about sport is the lifeblood of being a sports’ fan. The rub is what people are actually talking about,

“It’s the format of the events. I worry if a lot of what you’re seeing is actually high performance, people performing at their very best who are the best.

I’m quite disappointed with some aspects the European Championships.

Christine Ohuruogo in Action

Christine Ohuruogo in Action. Photograph: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Take Christine Ohuruogu and Anyika Onuora. There’s this big selection dilemma now because they came so close to each other in the four hundred metres. They’re both great athletes but Christine had to run an extra race prior to the final and comes in a close fourth. How is that an equal playing field to measure performance? Anyone in the top twelve in track events this year skips early qualifying. That produces an automatic bias”.

“Why structure it like that if it disadvantages certain athletes?”

“Because, I believe, the format is better for television and sponsors which means money is the reason not performance. Look at Euro 2016. More teams to begin with, teams qualifying by getting third place in a group. That’s not the peak of performance. It does not produce better quality football, it produces more football which produces more opportunities for revenue. With the European Athletics Champs’ they’re also every two years now instead of every four so the talent pool is diluted due to the proximity to the Olympics”.

“Organisers shift the goalposts to chase the money and justify it as either responding to demand or keeping a sport healthy. Problem is the athletes suffer, the quality suffers and ironically the entertainment suffers”.

“So what we’re seeing is not necessarily high performance?”

“I think you get entertainment placed above performance but parts of the media report events in a way that makes out you’ve witnessed the best ever, pretty much every time.

Organisers shift the goalposts to chase the money and justify it as either responding to demand or keeping a sport healthy. And they do all this without ever consulting the coaches. Problem is the athletes suffer, the quality suffers and ironically the entertainment suffers”.

“That’s rarely reported”.

“No surprise there”.

The highlights of yesterdays’ Tour de France are on in the background and Team Sky are involved in their usual, ruthless decimation of the competiton albeit with some alleged ad-libbing from Chris Froome. The commentators appear on the point of ecstasy in light of Froome’s unconventional descending style. Team Sky and their approach to performance have attained an almost mythical status, so much so that the speculation about their performance environment appears to provide competitive advantage in itself. I can’t deny it’s entertaining but I’m interested in Toni’s views on what constitutes a high performing environment. I ask the question,

Chris Froome

Chris Froome Redefining Speed (and discomfort) on a Descent

“Take Team Sky. People are always talking about the performance environment they’ve developed. What is a high performance environment?”

“It’s a coach and athletes, working hard towards a Target with no limitations. Not complicated. End of.”

Toni and Jess Business as usual

Business as usual

I can say this with some degree of confidence as I know Toni is working at the track with the team focusing on implementing a range of fine tuning elements, including the feedback from Jess’ performances at Ratingen.

“Creating a high performance is environment is uncomplicated but bloody hard work. That’s the bit a lot of people miss out.”

“It’s about being systematic and progressive. Always seek improvement and adapt to achieve it. Push boundaries. Make history by doing historical things”.

“That doesn’t sound easy”.

“I didn’t say it was. Creating a high performance is environment is uncomplicated but bloody hard work. That’s the bit a lot of people miss out.

High performance requires a level of attention to detail and repetition that is often mundane”.

“Not so great for conversation or making money?”

“No, but essential to win”.

For now I hope you’ve enjoyed your sporting Sunday whether you’re did it, watched it, or are still talking about it.