Friday October 12, 2012
Sturgess: Coaches must be more performance-driven
By RAJES PAUL
KUALA LUMPUR: A simple idea could be the difference between success and failure in the high-pressured world of sports.
Who would have imagined that a little tinkering with the handle frame of Chris Hoy’s bike made it one kilogramme lighter than Azizulhasni Awang’s (pic) at the London Olympic Games?
But that’s what happened and it saw the British star powering his way to the gold medal in the keirin event. This was one of the many minute details the Great Britain cycling track team, looked into to enhance the team’s performances that eventually saw them winning an impressive seven out of the 10 gold medals.
And Malaysia, says National Sports Institute (NSI) High Performance Training (HPT) coordinator Sean Sturgess, can learn from that so that our athletes too can perform better in future Olympic Games.
“We need to look into small improvements and marginal gains. The Great Britain looked into every area of their preparation and that made a difference for them. Their coaches were proactive and thought about ideas to improve performances ... even if it’s only by a mili-second,” said Sturgess.
The GB team had also picked up some insights through their collaboration with McLaren’s Formula One team and the British Aerospace Engineering to give their cyclists a slight advantage.
They also worked with local universities to improve on the cyclists’ clothing technology and even set up a bus with only nine seats so as to give the athletes enough rest with a comfortable environment.
Sturgess related the Great Britain success story as he spoke about the successes and failures of the Malaysian contingent at London Games yesterday. He was one of the speakers during a two-day post-mortem of Malaysia’s outing at the London Games, which was aptly named “Post Performance Road to London 2012,” at Bukit Jalil.
Reports were also given by the National Sports Council’s (NSC) elite programme director Ariffin Mohd Ghani and the Sports Minister’s special advisor Datuk Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz, who is also the former NSI’s CEO.
It is the first initiative conducted by a government body and was mooted by NSI’s new chief operating officer Ahmad Shapawi Ismail.
Sturgess said that local coaches have to change their mindsets and be performance-driven.
“Often times, we find that coaches do not take our sports science services seriously. Sometimes, we find that the athletes are able to influence their coaches over decisions on our services. There needs to be more trust,” he said.
“There is a need for transformation if Malaysian sport is to go forward. We have to shift our approach to a performance-driven and athlete-centred model. It is not a new approach.
“But all efforts will not matter if the athletes do not show the same commitment. Some of the athletes are not passionate about their sports and the use of sports science. It’s time they too take some responsibilities.”
Sturgess said that there was still room for improvement so that athletes can enjoy the optimum benefits of sports science.
“In NSI, we have a mix of experts. In Australia, 11 of their 19 members in the physiology department hold Phd (Doctor of Philosophy) but, in NSI, we only have one with such a degree,” he said.
“In 2004, we had one support staff who accompanied the Malaysian contingent to the Athens Olympic Games. In 2008, we had four. In London, we had a strong team of 16.
“And it is in London that we enjoyed the best results (Lee Chong Wei won a silver in badminton while Pandelela Rinong bagged a bronze in diving). The quality of performances have improved over the years and more are engaging our services.”
Shapawi said: “This post-mortem will enable us to look into our weaknesses and come out with ideas to improve our athletes’ performances.”