tri247.com has an interview with Chris Jones, who until recently was the World Class Performance Head women's coach for British Triathlon. I've met Chris a number of times at ITU events over the years and he always struck me as being very clued into what it takes to succeed in high level triathlon. He has had a very successful career thus far, including a World Championship in 2002.
Going over Chris' results as a coach, it reminded me of a thread over on the slowtwich about the best triathlon coaches in the world. Of course the names of the usual internet coaches are thrown around, but in my mind the top triathlon coaches in world are unknown to most age group type athletes, who don't follow the sport at the highest levels.
A couple highlights of the interview:
AE There have been a lot of changes in the sport since you started including the introduction of lottery funding for the athletes, do you think this has had a positive affect on the sport?
CJ I think any injection of funding into any sport will have a positive affect at first. The BTF's world class programme is a world class resource for athletes and coaches to use, I believe that funding is there to support athletes who want to reach their true potential. This is recognised at a junior level and up to under-23s. I am not sure we should be providing just anybody with a wage. I look at it this way; if you train to be a doctor or a teacher you get very little help, you earn a living when you are qualified. We have a six-year window to support and fund athletes to reach international performances in sport. We are a world class resource to support all athletes at the highest level, but once they are at this level it must be down to individual athletes to be professional and earn their living from the sport and sponsorship.
I also think that in the UK we give funding at a low level; if we talk about programmes and funding levels in other countries, like Australia and New Zealand, you have to be at a very high level before getting any support. At times we are in danger of sending out the wrong message by over-supporting. It is still about huge personal sacrifice; hunger and individual desire are what it takes to be able to deal with the training and adversity that comes with training to be a full time athlete.
I agree with what Chris says about funding here. Assisting athletes getting to the top level is key. Not very often certainly, but I have seen one or two athletes who were over-funded in relation to their commitment and desire to succeed at the highest levels. As Chris says sacrifice, hunger and individual desire have to be foremost, as well as being able to deal with the training and adversity... bang on.
AE What are your predictions for the 2008 Olympic triathlon, male and female?
CJ In the men’s race; Gomez, Don and Whitfield. In the women’s; Snowsill and Fernandez. The opportunity is for the rest of the world to chase the bronze medal.
Ok, not bad, he just got the order of the mens wrong...
Read the full interview on tri247.com