March 11, 2013
By Development Manager, Dean Leak
This weekend our GB Taekwondo Senior Team and Junior Development Squads travelled to Germany for one objective; to lay down their best performances to be considered for selection for their respective Major Championships this summer. Whilst the senior team were fighting in the last selection competition for the Senior World Championships, the GB Development Squads started their campaign to seek selection for the Junior European Championships in Porto this summer. Whilst there was medal success to celebrate from the two days of action in Hamburg, I believe there is more than medal success to celebrate and reflect on.
Two years ago, we received resource from Sport England to invest in an England Talent Programme. The vision of the ‘Talent Development’ programme is to become a world class player development system for nurturing talented athletes to become future World and Olympic champions. A system like does not happen overnight. However, milestones such as achieving five Junior medals this weekend, two of which were gold, signals the programme is on its way to realising this vision.
Nishaan Landa (Kang Han) and Asia Bailey (Central Taekwondo) claimed gold medals in the male -59kg and female -44kg respectively. There was also a silver medal for Tim Needham (Ultimate Taekwondo) and bronze medals for Katie Bradley (South Hams) and Natasha Burdock (Quest). Whilst these are individual success stories, it shows that as a nation, GB juniors are starting to stamp their mark on the international stage.
In the first 18 months since receiving Sport England investment, our primary focus was to impact in the areas of athlete development through regular training opportunities, world class coaching and science support and international sparring. This saw the introduction of GB Development Squads for Cadet and Junior athletes which invested in individuals who have the potential to be World Class athletes for the future. Our objective is to create a pipeline to ensure we deliver as many high quality athletes as possible to the World Class Performance Programme.
Since the inception of Sport England investment 18 months ago, I can really see a significant shift in player development both in terms of performance characteristics and medalling internationally. We have key targets as a programme to impact on the international stage at Major Championships and whilst we have made great progression in this area, we are all about maximising athlete potential to become Olympic Champions of the future.
The system that we have built in the short space of 18 months had been recognised by Sport England and as a result of demonstrating a good track record, Sport England invested £1.2 million in our programme, a 288% increase on previous investment, to build on existing initiatives.
We were very happy to receive this level of investment from Sport England and we will continue to ensure we have a significant impact on our talented athletes. In the next 4 years we will look to build on current athlete development initiatives by becoming a lot more detailed in our approach through performance analysis and in depth athlete to coach feedback. However, our main focus will be to support our dedicated club coaches through the development of coach education qualifications and impacting on the club environment, which has already begun.
This weekend we will be hosting its first qualification, ‘Advanced Coaching Practice in Sport Taekwondo’ which builds on previous CPD workshops in the last 6 months. This has been led by our Coach Systems Officer, Craig Richards, who has done a fantastic job since joining the development team eight months ago. The course will provide coaches with an extensive package to enhance their development in specific technical and tactical skills and the wider coach remit such as psychology and strength and conditioning.
Although we are early on in impacting on coach education, this weekend demonstrated the great work club coaches are doing with their athletes on the mat and in the club environment. The programme now wants to maximise this through having regular high level coach workshops to increase knowledge.
Our programme has a busy schedule for this year in athlete development and coach education. We will channel our efforts to build a world class system for the future and a close eye will be maintained to ensure the programme maximises its chances in the Cadet and Junior Major Championships this year. One thing is for sure, medalling at this year’s Cadet and Junior European Championships is not going to be easy. Athletes will have to go the extra mile in there weekly training to ensure they give themselves the best possible chance to medal. However, with the right training, continuing to work on individual targets and ensuring the correct preparation, we have every chance of making a big impact this summer.
For information on the Talent Development, specifically Athlete Development, please contact Dean Leak, Development Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org
For information on Coach Education, please contact Craig Richards, Coach Systems Officer at email@example.com