Bitter words as British Rowing launches inquest

Britain's rowers mustered just one silver and one bronze at Tokyo's Sea Forest Waterway - their worst showing at an Olympics since 1972.

02 August 2021 | Sports

NAMPA/AFP







British rower Josh Bugajski accused former chief rowing coach Juergen Grobler of "destroying" athletes as a searching inquest began on Friday into the nation's disastrous showing at the Olympics regatta.

Grobler stepped down in 2020 after 28 years with British Rowing, during which time he coached a succession of gold medallists including Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent.

The timing of his departure has been blamed for Britain's shocking showing in Tokyo, though team chiefs also pointed to multiple changes in team personnel since the Rio Games, where they topped the table for the third successive Olympics.

Bugajski, who won a bronze in the blue riband men's eight on the final day of the regatta on Friday, poured out his frustrations after the race.

The 30-year-old admitted that Grobler had strengths as a coach, but delivered a withering verdict on his approach.

"I will admit he is a good coach for some people, but there were some people he seemed to take a disliking to and what he did to them was just destroy them, destroy their soul, destroy everything," he said.

"He had complete power. If you don't get selected for a boat, your funding is never going to go up. I was pretty much broke for a year or so.

"My relationship suffered, my friendships suffered. Everything suffered. I'm very thankful to have a wonderful fiancee, a wonderful family back home who have looked after me whenever they can."

End of an era

Despite the frustrations in Tokyo, Bugajski said there were reasons to be positive for the future.

"I think it's the end of an era for British rowing but it's the start of a much better era," he said.

"We've had six boats come fourth, on the cusp of a medal, and we've had two medals.

"I think for Paris [2024] we have a lot of potential so I think we need to be honest about where it went wrong," he added.

"There's a lot of speculation about whether Juergen's leaving was what caused the issues. I think the issues had started long before that."

British five-time gold medallist Redgrave, now China's high performance director, criticised the team's selection methods.

"If you bring in systems and selection panels like we had in the 1970s and 80s, you must expect results that we had in the 70s and 80s," he said, without elaborating.

Shocking

The performance in Tokyo was a shocking return for a sport that received funding of £24.6 million from UK Sport in the 2017-2021 period.

Moe Sbihi, who won a bronze in the men's eight to go with his gold in the men's coxless four in Rio and bronze in the eight at London 2012, acknowledged the team had underperformed in Japan.

"A silver and a bronze for quite a highly funded sport in Team GB, we should be doing better," he said.

But he had words of praise for Grobler, laying bare differences of opinion within the team over the legacy of the former coach.

"He is a winner, he's a notorious winner," Sbihi said, adding he was still in contact with the German.

"He's bred winners but we have a winner in our own coach.

"I spoke to him briefly this week just to say thank you to him," he added. "Most of the guys feel very grateful for the legacy that he has put in place."

Fell short

Brendan Purcell, British Rowing's performance director, said the team had fallen short of its four-medal target, admitting "we didn't meet our own expectations".

He said some rowers had thrived in the culture established under Grobler while others had struggled, promising a searching review.

"The reality is a performance environment needs to achieve exceptional performances and for people to explore their limits, there needs to be a balance between support and challenge; and for every individual that's a difficult mix to find," he said.

"Some people thrive constantly on challenge 24 hours a day, some people don't. I suppose it is one of the things we have to get a bit better at. I think sometimes we didn't get that balance quite right."

Similar News

 

Japan, Namibia sign deal to help sport

19 hours ago | Sports

LIMBA MUPETAMIWINDHOEKNamibia signed a cooperation agreement with Japan in October last year to address the lack of modern sport facilities, well-trained coaches and opportunities for...

City’s cyclists rejoice over bike lanes

1 day - 23 September 2021 | Sports

Limba Mupetami WINDHOEKYesterday, at the corner of Shanghai and Florence Nightingale streets in Khomasdal, City of Windhoek - in collaboration with the...

May the best athlete win

1 day - 23 September 2021 | Sports

Limba Mupetami WINDHOEKAs momentum builds towards the upcoming Namibia Annual Sports Awards (NASA), corporate...

Mboma collecting silverware around the world

2 days ago - 22 September 2021 | Sports

LIMBA MUPETAMIWINDHOEKChristine Mboma has been unstoppable. Here, Namibian Sun highlights the teenager’s success over the years since taking to the track.Mboma took up athletics in...

Elnatan en NCF neem skaak virtueel

3 days ago - 21 September 2021 | Sports

Mariselle Stofberg Op Saterdag, 25 September, sal Privaatskool Elnatan in samewerking met die Namibiese Skaakfederasie (NCF) ’n virtuele skaaktoernooi aanbied. Die kompetisie is oop vir...

Rugby season back on track

3 days ago - 21 September 2021 | Sports

Jeanette DiergaardtThe Indongo Toyota Super Saturday Clash in partnership with Gravity, left rugby fans excited to have the schools battling it out on the field...

Battle lines drawn

3 days ago - 21 September 2021 | Sports

Limba Mupetami WINDHOEKThe top eight clubs to compete in the quarter-finals of the MTC Namibia Football Association Cup Aweh have been confirmed.Blue...

‘I cried tears of joy’

3 days ago - 21 September 2021 | Sports

JESSE JACKSON KAURAISAWINDHOEK Namibia senior men’s indoor hockey team head coach, Trevor Cormack, says he cried when the hockey union broke the news to him...

Eagles on point

4 days ago - 20 September 2021 | Sports

LIMBA MUPETAMIFollowing an eventful and nerve-wracking run chase, Namibia's Capricorn Eagles (90/8) beat Tanzania (89/7) by two wickets, with two balls remaining in the semi-final...

Blue Waters plan to go all out

4 days ago - 20 September 2021 | Sports

LIMBA MUPETAMIPaulus Shipanga said this after his side Blue Waters defeated Western Spurs 6-4 in penalties at the Jan Wilken Stadium in Mariental after a...

Latest News

Marketing Namibia as an investment...

19 hours ago | Economics

PHILLEPUS UUSIKUThe ease of doing business, quality of roads and infrastructure, political and economic stability, good governance and judiciary independence are some of the factors...

Forklifting failure

19 hours ago | Others

Natasja ByleveldAre you OK thinking about unconventional ideas that could uplift society and norms to a higher standard? Do you like a challenge, or do...

Big thinker who is not...

19 hours ago | People

Contrasting with his considered, analytical, and steady approach to life, Rolf Mendelsohn is an undisputed adventurer. Together with the other founders of Paratus, Rolf...

Children abused as govt turns...

19 hours ago | Police

JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEKStaff at a centre for orphans and vulnerable people in Katutura...

Economy crawls into the green

19 hours ago | Economics

Jo-Maré Duddy WINDHOEKNamibia’s economy grew by 1.6% for the three months ended 30 June, the first positive year-on-year quarterly growth since the...

Oxygen giant spreads misinformation in...

19 hours ago | Health

MADLEN DAVIES and TUYEIMO HAIDULA LONDON/OSHAKATI One of the world’s biggest industrial gas companies spread misinformation in an attempt to stop...

Nigeria aims to boost oil...

19 hours ago | Economics

Nigeria said Wednesday it aims to produce 1.88 million barrels per day of crude oil next year and the budget will be based on the...

Submissions open for Hollard Sport...

19 hours ago | Economics

STAFF REPORTERLockdown and the limitations on gatherings and events have driven those in the sports marketing and promotional space to have to adapt, digitise, dig...

An easy ride-hailing platform

19 hours ago | Others

Wetumwene Shikage The everyday experience for many Namibians of getting a taxi to from different locations has been made more convenient. TaxiConnect provides an easy...

Load More