Sir Clive Woodward's role within Olympic sports has been limited to badminton, the periphery of boxing and Euan Burton, who goes for a medal in the judo today. Ask him why and the BOA's director of elite performance talks ruefully about "the challenge of working within the system", but the system is going to have to bend more to his will post-Beijing.
Woodward has been promised enhanced power after these Games by Lord Moynihan, the chairman of the BOA, who has personally funded the former England rugby union head coach's position. Woodward insists that he is best served working alongside the athletes and yesterday he talked in further detail about how he can help right across Olympic sports, including athletics, that have so far kept him at arm's length.
Woodward was promoting a joint partnership between the BOA and Johnson & Johnson, manufacturer of contact lenses among other things, which has invested a six-figure sum into improving eyesight, co-ordination and vision for Great Britain's Olympic athletes.
Some of the money has funded the recruitment of Sherylle Calder, the vision coach, who worked with Woodward when England won the Rugby World Cup in 2003. Johnson & Johnson's financial backing spares Woodward some of the criticism that his schemes are overly expensive.
The company has already worked with Kelly Sotherton, the heptathlete, who claims that her performances in the hurdles and javelin have improved as a result. Tests revealed that she was closing one eye to focus and lacked peripheral vision, faults that were improved with the help of computer exercises. Woodward hopes to put hundreds more Britain athletes through the testing programme. "My philosophy is to do 100 things 1 per cent better," he said.
Among the specialists he employed to work with Burton is Tag Lamche, the former drummer with Ian Dury and the Blockheads, who uses juggling to improve dexterity.
In Beijing, Woodward insisted that he was not daunted by the giant Government backed sporting programme of the host nation. "We can't match them across all the sports, but we can use our money well to get the best out of individuals and help turn them into gold medallists," he said.
Copyright (C) The Times, 2008
"Eyes on Woodward to sharpen focus on more golds; Olympic Games." Times [London, England] 12 Aug. 2008: 64. Academic OneFile. Web. 26 Nov. 2009.
Gale Document Number:CJ182640664
United States Judo Association - USJA
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