Paula Dan:’I’m good, but not weak.People confuse it. “| Athletics

“Do Do you think your obsession with medals is overkill? Absolutely, “says Paula Dan. Impressive and unusual clarity for those operating in the higher stratosphere of British sports. “Medal alone is not enough, so we have to look across the medal table.”

Dan pauses. Take inventory. It reflects the pressure of the UK sports system and where it can lead, as we have seen in cycling and gymnastics. “Don’t get me wrong. It was nice when it really worked in Rio,” she admits. “But that’s not all. You are also responsible. I don’t want people to get out of sports and say they’re not happy.”

The term Trailblazer is overused and obsolete these days, but Dan is certainly not the only one. She was the first woman to become the head coach of British athletics when she took over the Paralympic program after the 2012 London Olympics. He was also the first black head coach. And let’s launch an undisputed success story. The UK has won 33 medals at the Rio Paralympics. This is four more medals than the 2012 home game.

But it laughs and admits, thinking about UK Sport’s targets and filling out one of the spreadsheets that predicts where athletes will end up in Tokyo, and keeps waking up with a cold sweat. “The head coach who says otherwise doesn’t tell the truth,” she says with a smile. “Of course I’m worried. Yes, you need to justify the public funding invested in your sport-I’m not naive-but especially when you have to make decisions involving athletes, work Some aspects of can be emotionally exhausting.

Last week, UK Sport intended to focus its future funding for Olympic and Paralympic sports on medals for 12 years instead of 4 and focus on supporting “people and performer growth.” I said there is. This is a change of emphasis that Dan believes is clearly behind. “I always keep in mind that there is a person behind every number. You never lose track of it. No athlete fails the biggest event of life. Therefore, negative things happen. If so, you have to accept it. It’s just one of them. My job is always to protect and help athletes. “

When speaking on a refreshing autumn day in Manchester, Dan wants to beat another point. It is possible to succeed at the highest level of kind sports. In fact, she says it’s an advantage. “You can never be too kind. People think good people are weak. Not. I’m because everyone says I’m really good, but I’m not weak. . People confuse it. “

She argues that discussions between athletes can be facilitated by combining data and diplomacy. Especially if you know that your coach is fair and well-meaning. “It’s the ability to hear more and speak less,” she says. “This way you can hear what the athletes are saying, what they are really listening to, and what they are not saying. It is a real indicator of where they are mentally and emotionally. Give. Where are they in life? “

Paula Thomas put some of the youth of Manchester Sports Athletics School at their pace in 1994, as they were then. Photo: Mirrorpix / Getty Images

Dan also recognizes the similarities between her and Christian Malcolm, the new Olympic head coach in British athletics. Both were inexperienced when they took over their current roles. So can Malcolm make the same leap as it did in the last eight years?

“I really think so,” she says. “I called Christians many times. The substance remains private, but he is very excited. When I got the role, people also asked me. He asked me. I’m doing the right thing by talking to a lot of people, but I keep telling him that the only way he can guide is himself. You have to be real.

“He has a lot of really good qualities. He’s very likable, really knowledgeable, participating in the relay GB system and taking the plunge to go to Australia as a performance director. I think he has more skills than people admit to him. “

But what about the fact that he has been a coach for only six years? “Yes, but he intends to learn at work,” Dan insists. “And I think everyone, whether coaches, athletes or the media, needs time to grow. I think he could be a great person.”

When Malcolm became head coach, several athletes, including Dina Asher-Smith, welcomed it as a new era of sport. Dan agrees, but adds a warning. “Yes, but at the same time, no sport can sit in its glory,” she says. “I can’t do that.” I have a black head coach from the Olympics and a black head coach from Pallas. Check the box to move on. “This is what we need to keep working.We definitely have more BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] Coaches who have really good and innovative ideas. “

So far, most of Dan’s time has been spent planning for the Tokyo Paralympics next year. She hopes the young team will work, but she also wants to weaken her expectations.

“Talent development takes time, and what makes it even more difficult is that the Paralympic sports landscape has moved very fast in the last two cycles.

“But I can promise you this: we go there and give it 100%. Great if it achieves our medal goal. Great if not. I’m proud of the last one if I can get the best performance and personal best. “

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Paula Dan:’I’m good, but not weak.People confuse it. “| Athletics

Source link Paula Dan:’I’m good, but not weak.People confuse it. “| Athletics

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