May 20 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Performance director confident the sport is heading in the right direction in Britain
Takedown (two points): When a standing wrestler gains control of his opponent on the mat.
Escape (one point): When the wrestler on the ground returns to a standing position.
Reversal (two points): When the wrestler on the bottom switches to establish top position over his opponent.
Near fall: Earns two or three points depending on the length of time held in the position.
A lack of talent and participation forced Shaun Morley to look abroad to help young British wrestlers. Although much criticised, the British Wrestling Association (BWA) performance director believes the sport is starting to reap the benefits.
The BWA has secured the option of utilising the maximum three host places at the 2012 Olympic Games after the improvement the sport has shown, with British wrestlers winning 70 per cent of matches against world class opposition as opposed to just over 30 per cent four years ago.
Just last year, Myroslav Dykun, who moved to England in 2003 from the Ukraine, won gold for his adopted country in the 66kg Greco-Roman wrestling event at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
However, the decision by the BWA to bring over foreign training partners since 2005, when the decision was announced that the Olympic Games would be heading to London, has been criticised for fear it may limit the chances of British-born athletes competing at the top level.
Morley feels it was a choice that had to be made if wrestling in Great Britain was to eventually achieve accolades on the world stage.
“There was a necessity for that because it’s a combat sport, and we have to be able compete against other people,” he said.
“And to do that you need the quality in terms of opposition on the day-to-day basis. When we started this programme that quality of training partners wasn’t available.
“A couple of them have settled down, a couple of them have got married and stayed in the UK and have therefore gained citizenship so they in their own right have now got the eligibility to wrestle for GB and they are extremely good wrestlers.
“There was no intention for them to stay, they have just settled in the UK and there are only two of them in the programme at the moment so it’s a very small number.
“At the end of the day the intention was to use foreign-based training partners to improve and develop the programme to where it was a world class programme.
“If by 2012 they have helped us and assisted us to do that, then we have got the infrastructure, the understanding, and the support mechanisms in place for our athletes to continue to develop on the world stage post 2012.”
In terms of building that legacy, the BWA have targeted the school system to get more youngsters involved in wrestling and Morley believes the only reason why Britain has not been such a force before is the lack of coaching available to young people who would consider trying the sport.
“We are certainly trying to develop wrestling in schools and the participation at grass roots level is starting to improve,” he said.
“What we need to make sure is by next year we have got the infrastructure and availability of coaches to allow wrestling to go across the country.
“Young lads in particular love to wrestle, that’s something they do naturally, and we have just got to be able to be in a position where we can facilitate their natural enthusiasm for the sport in the school system.
“At the moment we are restricted by the number of qualified coaches available but we are working with the UKCC (UK Coaching Certificate) to ensure we have got the right structures and qualifications in place to improve and develop the sport at grass roots level over the coming 12 months to two years.”
Youngsters like Brett Hawthorn and Philip Roberts have shown promise, with the latter winning the 66kg category of the 2010 National Senior Championships in Birmingham.
Morley believes there isn’t a question of whether there is talent in Great Britain, it is more about making sure there is a structure in place for more to come to prominence.
“We have got a couple of athletes who probably won’t be ready for 2012 in terms of performance, the likes of Philip Roberts who is part of our performance programme at the moment,” he said.
“But there are others such as Brett Hawthorne, a young man from Bradford, who has really developed over the last 12-18 months.
“There is talent and hopefully we will have the infrastructure and support mechanisms in place to allow these athletes to flourish.”
Looking to 2012, Morley believes it will be tough for Team GB to come away with medals, but knows the bigger challenge is to raise wrestling’s profile.
“Things have progressed over the last three years and we will continue to,” he said.
“The aim is to get one or two of the athletes in the top six, if not better, next year so I am quite happy with where we are at.
“I am content that British wrestling has considerably improved over the last three or four years and if we medal that’ll be great, if not I will have hoped that we will have left a legacy for the sport to continue to develop and hopefully in the future win medals at Olympic Games.”