Clyde Street

Learning, Teaching, Performing

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Reading The Winning Edge

I have had an opportunity to read through the the High Performance Plan, The Winning Edge, announced by the Australian Sports Commission earlier today (webcast).

A number of people have tweeted about the announcement at #winningedge.

I thought I would share some of the details of the Plan as I did with the Crawford Report.

My take on The Edge is …

High Performance (page 1) is about:

  • Consistent and sustainable success for Australian athletes and teams on the world stage
  • Greater levels of accountability for performance results
  • Improved governance structures and contemporary reporting and monitoring of performance
  • Engaging, uniting, inspiring and motivating all Australians.


Winning the Next Race (page 2)

 “Our Olympic performance peaked nearly a decade ago. Since Athens in 2004 our place in the upper echelons of medal-winning nations has drifted downwards. The London Games provided clear signs that even in sports where we have had great success, there are new and re-emerging competitive challenges.”

We are:

  • Winning fewer gold medals
  • Winning fewer total medals
  • Achieving less top-eight placings
  • Below the average of the top 15 nations at the Games for conversion of top-eight placings into medals

“The other measure of sustained success — annual world champions — tells a similar story and extends beyond Olympic sports. There is a trend downwards in priority sports, with 2012 likely to be the lowest result in the last 12 years.”

2012-2022 Performance Targets (page 3)

  • A top five nation at the Olympics and Paralympics
  • A top fifteen nation at the Winter Olympics and Paralympics
  • Number one at the Commonwealth Games
  • Have more than 20 world champions annually.


The Game Plan (pages 4, 5 and 6)

  • Invest for success
  • Plan to perform
  • Support
  • Good governance and capability
  • Evidence-based decisions


Priority Actions (page 8)

  1. Introduce a sharper, more robust national funding and accountability model.
  2. Help sports reduce costs/complexity and grow their capacity
  3. Invest dividends from efficiencies into three key areas: better direct support for athletes; greater investment in coaches and high performance personnel; renewed focus on unearthing and nurturing Australia’s talent
  4. Refocus the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) to grow its role as Australia’s national high performance agency


Understanding High Performance Sport in Australia (pages 10 and 11)

 Australian Institute of Sport (“Australia’s strategic high performance sport agency with responsibility and accountability for leading the delivery of Australia’s international sporting success.”)

State Institutes and Academies of Sport (“provide high performance services and support in partnership with NSOs in their respective state and territory jurisdictions with a view to delivering high quality daily training environments for athletes and teams with podium potential.”)

Peak Bodies (“Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) and Australian Commonwealth Games Association (ACGA) support sports to access significant international competitions, including the Olympic Games, Paralympic Games and Commonwealth Games. In addition, the APC manages high performance programs for several sports, provides direct funding to national federations and other high performance sector partners, and delivers programs that value add to this investment.”)

The Edge has a schematic for the High Performance System and Performance Outcomes (page 12):

There are four other documents available in The Edge announcement:


The AIS Centre for Performance Coaching and Leadership will be established to:

“improve and formalise a pathway designed for professional development for our high performance coaches and sport leaders, and drive research and innovation. The Centre will systematically integrate and build on successful approaches and programs, such as the National Coaching Scholarship Program, coach profiling and coach study tours, and provide a platform for long-term capability development, with a flexible approach to learning. The Centre will position the AIS as a global leader in high performance coaching and leadership development, acknowledging the potential for rapid growth in high performance coaching.”

The Athlete Pathway (Talent) Development Initiatives are:

  • Sports draft and second chance programs
  • Talent pool expansion
  • Full-time dedicated pathway managers
  • Talent enrichment team
  • Multi-sport centre of excellence


The Innovation Funding Pool aims to:

“encourage innovation and a greater commitment to investment in coaching and high performance personnel, a new pool of funding will be set aside for competitive bids from national sporting organisations (NSO) in high priority sports. The focus of the funding will be on new proposals, and is in addition to a sport’s existing investment in coaching and high performance staff. Funding will extend to encourage technology-related initiatives that will benefit in the areas of coaching and on-field performance. Depending on the nature of proposals, NSOs could be supported for one-off initiatives or multi-year initiatives where evidence of need is justified.”

There are eight High Performance Investment Principles:

  1. The ASC’s investment objective is podium-level results for Australians in international sporting competitions consistent with the targets set out in Australia’s Winning Edge. Investment will be directly linked to a sport’s ability to provide evidence of how it will contribute to the targets in Australia’s Winning Edge.
  2. ASC investment is dependent on sports, athletes, coaches and support personnel demonstrating the highest possible standards of integrity in sport, including anti-doping, that will enhance the reputation of Australia internationally and provide a positive example to all Australians.
  3. Sports must operate with high quality governance, administrative and financial practices that will give the ASC confidence that public funds will be spent effectively. The ASC expects sports to operate at best practice, taking account of an individual sport’s particular circumstances.
  4. The ASC will only invest in sports that have best practice high performance plans in place with clearly agreed key performance indicators across a range of areas. Once agreed, sports will be accountable for achieving progress against milestones.
  5. Sports must co-invest in high performance and will be expected to grow their share of investment over time from other revenue sources such as commercial, philanthropic and sponsorship opportunities. The ASC will work closely with NSOs to assist in achieving progress.
  6. In making investment decisions, the ASC will consider the totality of a sport’s funding position, including broadcast revenues and the efficiency with which funds are being spent.
  7. In making investment decisions for NSO high performance plans, the ASC will consider a sport’s international competitive environment, including differences in competition opportunities, medals available, the differing needs of teams and individual athletes, depth of fields, and athlete pathways.
  8. ASC investment seeks to achieve sustained success aligned to Australia’s Winning Edge targets. The ASC will invest over the long term where a sport can demonstrate a strong talent pipeline and a support structure to help athletes realise their potential.



Home Advantage at the Olympic Games: 1988-2012

On Monday this week I wrote a post titled Overwhelmed.

Back in 2010 I wrote about Home Ground, Home Advantage.

A comment by Danielle Woodward on my Overwhelmed post sent me off a journey back to 1988.

I thought I would look at all the host cities from Seoul to the present day and consider the impact on the host nation’s performance in the Games immediately before, at the host venue and the following Olympics to look at patterns of performance.

I did not go back to 1984 because of issues about boycott.

I have used the excellent London 2012 Games web site as my source of truth for the medal results for Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, Athens, Beijing and London.

The pattern for total medals won at each Olympic Games from Seoul (1988) to the present is:

The data for the graph are (host year in bold):

Total Medals USA China GB Australia Korea Spain Greece
1988 94 28 24 14 33 4 1
1992 108 54 20 27 29 22 2
1996 101 50 15 41 27 17 8
2000 97 58 28 58 28 11 13
2004 103 63 31 49 30 19 16
2008 110 100 47 46 31 18 4
2012 104 88 65 35 28 17 2

The pattern of Gold Medal success (and position on the Medal Table) from Seoul (1988) to the present day:

The data for the graph are (host year in bold):

Gold Medals USA China GB Australia Korea Spain Greece
1988 36 5 5 3 12 1 0
1992 37 16 5 7 12 13 2
1996 44 16 1 9 7 5 4
2000 37 28 11 16 8 3 4
2004 36 32 9 17 9 3 6
2008 36 51 19 14 13 5 0
2012 46 38 29 7 13 3 0

The position on the Medal Table (based on Gold Medals won) from Seoul (1988) to the present day:

The data for the graph are (host year in bold):

Medal Table USA China GB Australia Korea Spain Greece
1988 3 12 13 16 4 26 41
1992 2 4 13 10 7 6 21
1996 1 4 53 7 10 13 18
2000 1 3 10 4 12 27 18
2004 1 2 10 4 9 21 15
2008 2 1 4 6 7 15 84
2012 1 2 3 10 5 21 75

There are some fascinating patterns of performance in these tables. Between 1988 and 2012 all host nations saw improvements in their medal table status. Within sixteen years from Atlanta to London, Great Britain improved by 50 places. Korea has shown a very interesting trend. After a dip in overall ranking in 1996 and 2000 Korea has returned to the top 5 nations in 2012. At present their performance curve is concave whilst Australia’s is convex. The country least affected by a home Olympics is Greece.

At the time of hosting a home Olympic Games in the 1988-2012 time period, all nations recoded their best gold medal performance. The USA (2012), Australia (2004) and Korea (2008, 2012) have beaten their home gold medal haul since hosting a Games. (I acknowledge Andrew Read’s comment on this post. Andrew points to the changes in world sport brought about by the demise of East Germany and the transformation of the Soviet Union. In 1988 the Soviet Union led the medal table (132 medals, 55 gold) and East Germany were second (102 medals, 37 gold). The Unified Team led the medal tally in Barcelona in 1992 (112 medals, 45 gold) but the USA were second ahead of a unified German team.)

Photo Credit

Ki Bo Bae



I have been overwhelmed by the performance of Team GB at the London 2012 Games.

Twelve years ago I watched the Sydney Games from my home in rural North Wales. This month I watched the London Games from rural New South Wales.

It has been fascinating to reflect on Olympic performance journeys from Sydney to London.

My sense in 2000 was that Australia had provided a model for the rest of the world in hosting an Olympic Games and for enhancing ethically athlete performance. I was conscious too that my colleagues in the United Kingdom were eager to learn about the Australian success story.

In 2000 the UK was building an elite sport system and exploring how to accelerate progress. I do think Australians made a significant contribution to these early developments. I was fortunate at the time to be one of Sport England’s World Class Experts and I sat in on a number of the reviews of Olympic performance in Sydney.

My move to Australia in 2002 gave me a close up look at the Australian system. I was in awe of the system that had been established, particularly in the institutes and academies of sport. I did wonder if a system that was so successful in Sydney could sustain the momentum created by a home Olympics.

I was acutely aware that a world system of sport expertise stimulated by Sydney was a ‘threat’ to continuing Australian Olympic success. Just as Australia  had recruited world leading coaches, it was certain that other nations would do so too. The award of the Games to London in 2005 hastened this process.

In the last twelve years, Great Britain has moved from winning 28 medals (including 11 gold medals) in Sydney, to 31 medals (9 gold) in Athens, to 47 in Beijing (19 golds) and 65 medals (29 golds) in London.

Part of my overwhelming experience has been that Great Britain won more gold medals in London than the total medals won in Sydney.

In London, Great Britain won medals in 19 sports and gold medals in 13 of these. Great Britain won 8 cycling gold medals, 4 athletics and 4 rowing.

In London, Australia won medals in 13 sports and gold medals in 5 of them. The most successful gold medal winning sport was sailing (3 gold medals).

In the last 12 years a comparison of total medals won by Great Britain and Australia:

Gold medals in the same period:

It will be fascinating to see what happens in Rio in 2016. Just as in Sydney in 2000, Great Britain has set a standard in 2012.

This has been China’s pattern over three Olympic cycles:


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A Twelve Year Journey: Medal Winning at the Olympic Games

Just before the start of the London Olympics I wrote about medal predictions.

The predictions came from The Herald Sun‘s Virtual Medal Predictor.

Twenty-six days before the Games performance data suggested the following outcomes:

Te final medal table published on the London 2012 web site after the final event on Day 16 of the Games was:

It is interesting to note the trends leading up to London that underscore Great Britain’s achievements in London (data from the London 2012 web site):

Sydney 2000

Athens 2004

Beijing 2008

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Wikifying the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

There has been a fascinating project underway in Australia for the last year.

A group of experienced and new wikipedians have been developing wiki pages for Australian Paralympians under the guidance of Tony Naar at the Australian Paralympic Committee.

I receive daily updates of their work and have been staggered by the scale and scope of their creativity.

One of the contributors to the project is Laura Hale. Laura has been working on Olympic pages too and she set herself the objective of developing pages for all female Australian Olympians in 2012.

This week Brian Mossop has produced an account of the overall use of Wikipedia at the Games in a Wired article.

He points out that:

Despite being staffed entirely by an army of volunteers, Wikipedia — which is not, strictly speaking, a news site — is keeping pace with conventional media outlets. Official results make their way to athletes’ Wikipedia pages within hours, and sometimes minutes, of their finish. With dedicated editors working 24/7, Wikipedia pages are proving to be faster, leaner and more popular alternatives to traditional reporting.

Photo Credit

Orbit – Olympic Park

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Whatever It Takes?

Sport offers opportunities for heroic effort.

Yesterday Manteo Mitchell exemplified this effort at the London Games.

In a Reuters report Neil Maidment quotes Manteo:

I got out pretty slow, but I picked it up and when I got to the 100-metre mark it felt weird. As soon as I took the first step past the 200-metre mark, I felt it break. I heard it.

(After the race an x-ray revealed he had broken his left fibula.)

Eddie Pells reports that Manteo “finished his heat in a more-than-respectable 46.1 seconds, and the United States tied the Bahamas in the second heat in 2 minutes, 58.87 seconds – the fastest time ever run in the first round of the relay at the Olympics”. He quotes Manteo on his effort:

Even though track is an individual sport, you’ve got three guys depending on you, the whole world watching you. You don’t want to let anyone down. … I pretty much figured it was broken, because every step I took, it got more painful but I was out there already. I just wanted to finish and do what I was called in to do.

Rob Goldberg points out that “this was the only event Mitchell was set to compete in during the Olympics after finishing fifth at the trials. He was a part of the relay team that won gold at the 2012 World Indoor Championships.”

Photo Credit

The Race