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Page last updated at 06:42 GMT, Thursday, 28 January 2010

Woodward thrilled by GB Olympic coaching progress

By Brian Alexander
BBC Radio 5 live

Sir Clive Woodward
Sir Clive says British coaches are as good as their Australian rivals

Sir Clive Woodward believes Team GB are overtaking Australia in the care and attention given to athletes and coaches in pursuit of excellence.

The World Cup-winning England rugby coach has been Director of Elite Performance for the British Olympic Association for over three years.

He believes that talent identification and work on improving levels of coaching will pay off at London 2012.

"We've caught up with the Australians - and we're moving past them," he said.

In his first major interview for two years, on BBC Radio 5 live, Woodward explained: "I spent five years in Australia and always admired how they got behind their athletes by giving them every opportunity to succeed.

"My job at the BOA is to redress the balance in terms of emphasising the importance of giving our athletes the best coaching skills available."

Woodward, who led the British and Irish Lions and then had a year working in football at Southampton FC after coaching England to the 2003 World Cup win, was hired by BOA boss Lord Moynihan to assess Britain's elite coaches.

"As England coach, nobody ever approached me to help with fresh ideas," he said.

"I wouldn't have seen it as a threat at all. I would have welcomed someone else giving me ideas to gain that extra edge over my rivals.

"Through the Olympic Coaching Programme I've developed with my colleagues, including Dave Reddin and Marco Cardinale, we can work with a coach, assess how they work and help them implement ideas and strategies to assistant their athletes.

"If a coach didn't want to work with us, then that's fine. But a coach who is confident in his own ability will always strive for that bit extra. Coaches shouldn't be intimated by the process."

One of Woodward's early successes has been with the GB shooting team coach Ian Coley.

"We spent time with him, assessed how he worked and performed in competition and offered ideas to help him reach the next level," said Woodward.

"He was very receptive. I have no idea how to shoot a gun, but I have years of coaching experience. If the GB shooting team can operate at their personal best levels at London 2012 then our job will have been done well."

But could Woodward be of any assistance to the British sports that are already flourishing on the world stage, such as rowing, sailing and cycling?

Shelley Rudman
Rudman with her gold medal at the Skeleton World Cup at St Moritz

"I would love the opportunity and Dave Brailsford from cycling is always inviting me along, but with the time we have available I would rather concentrate on sports who we can genuinely help, sports that haven't managed to attain the level they would like."

Woodward will be deputy Chef de Mission at the forthcoming Winter Games in Vancouver, based with the skiers and sliders at Whistler.

He said: "It's my job to ensure that our athletes and coaches have everything they need to perform at their best. It's a logistical role and one I'm very much looking forward to.

"Before my work at the BOA, I had never been to a Winter Games and knew very little about the different disciplines. I consider myself to be a good skier, but that's all.

"What I have discovered is the huge amount of commitment and passion from a talented bunch of people who are doing it for virtually no money and often in very trying circumstances. They are heroes. They all deserve the support of the whole country.

"Athletes like Shelley Rudman and Kristan Bromley are doing so well. They deserve our backing."

Hear Brian Alexander's full interview with Sir Clive Woodward on 5 live's London Calling programme on Thursday 28 January from 2000 GMT.

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see also
Baxter omitted from Winters squad
26 Jan 10 |  Vancouver 2010
Brits target three Winter medals
25 Jan 10 |  Vancouver 2010
Police focus on 2012 security
26 Nov 09 |  Olympics
Woodward wants record winter haul
27 Mar 09 |  Winter Sports
Woodward says no to 2012 GB team
20 Mar 09 |  Olympics
London's Olympics to be 'secure'
27 Nov 08 |  London
Woodward wants Olympic investment
22 Feb 08 |  Beijing 2008
Woodward Olympics role questioned
20 Nov 07 |  Olympics 2012
Woodward demands Olympic overhaul
08 Oct 07 |  Olympics 2012

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