UK Sport cautious over Woodward’s Olympic job

By Steven Downes
The sometimes tense relationship between the British Olympic Association and UK Sport surfaced again today when John Steele, UKS’s chief executive, gave only a cautious welcome to last night’s announcement that Sir Clive Woodward is to become the BOA’s director of elite performance, by warning against the appointment creating “confusion”.

“With Beijing just around the corner and the ultimate challenge of 2012 still to come, it is vital that the BOA’s performance activity complements that of UK Sport,” Steele said today.

“We are working hard to create a world-class performance system for our sports and athletes, with new money and an integrated structure providing the sports with the clarity of purpose they have long craved. What we all need to avoid is any confusion over responsibilities and we look forward to working with Clive to ensure this does not occur.”

Steele, with his background in Northampton rugby, has known Woodward for many years. His cautious comments about confusion were only slightly tempered when he said: “I know Clive from my time in rugby and congratulate him on his appointment. Alongside our role leading the development of our world class athletes with the National Governing Bodies, the BOA already does a great job preparing Team GB for the Olympic arena. Clive’s extensive knowledge and experience of elite sport will be a great asset.”

According to the BOA, Sir Clive’s role will be to oversee the provision of support and services directly to the 35 Olympic sports. He will also be responsible for Team GB’s pre-Beijing Preparation Camp and will act as Deputy Chef de Mission (Performance) at the Beijing Games in 2008, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games and London Olympic Games.

He joins the BOA after having spent just over a year in a coaching capacity at Championship football club Southampton, following a less-than-successful British Isles rugby tour of New Zealand. It had been thought that Woodward was about to set up his own sporting consultancy business after the Rugby Football Union overlooked him for their elite director of rugby role in favour of Rob Andrew.

In 2003, when England won the Webb Ellis Trophy and the SJA Team of the Year Award, Woodward’s coaching achievement was honoured by the SJA with the The JL Manning Award for services to sport off the field of play.

His appointment at the BOA was warmly greeted by Sir Steve Redgrave, the five-time Olympic gold medallist. “If there is one person who knows how to get the best out of elite sportspeople it is Sir Clive.”

In a statement issued by the BOA, Sir Clive, 50, said: “It is a privilege to be joining the BOA at such an exciting time for British sport.

“I will use my past experiences in high performance sport to assist the 35 Olympic sports achieve their own aspirations, and working in partnership with UK Sport, national governing bodies and performance directors to ensure the performance of Team GB is maximised in the years ahead.

“The prospect of working together with our elite coaches and athletes is tremendously exciting for me.”

Simon Clegg, the BOA chief executive, said: “Since before the success of the London 2012 bid I have been in discussion with Clive about his possible involvement in the development of Team GB.

“Clive will be a huge asset to the organisation, he will challenge our perspective and his expertise and motivational qualities will ensure our athletes within Team GB can achieve their very best performances.”

BOA chairman, Lord Colin Moynihan, marked an important appointment for Team GB’s long-term success:

“The BOA and Team GB are committed to hitting our targets. We are raising the bar ourselves, and we intend to clear it. As we strengthen our performance team, headed up by Clive as director, we are widening the depth of expertise which our Olympic Sports and their athletes can utilise.”

“What an outstanding and inspirational appointment,” said John Anderson, the performance director of the British Canoe Union. “I look forward to working with Clive towards London 2012.”

Sir Clive is due to take up his appointment with effect from September 18, and a press conference will be arranged that week.

For more information, contact the BOA Press Office on 020 8871 2677 ext: 233 / 07789 658 798 (Louisa Huddy) / 07850 555 983 (Graham Newsom)