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How Great Britain’s National Performance Centre Supports its Medal-Winning Strategy

Steve Paulding of British Athletics runs through the organisation’s athlete-centric approach.

Leaders Performance Institute – July 3, 2018 (UNITED KINGDOM) Great Britain met its target of six medals at the 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championships, which is not to say the journey was straightforward. “There are certain sports where winning medals is more controllable, where perhaps there are fewer nations competing,” says Steve Paulding, the Director of British Athletics’ National Performance Institute [NPI] in Loughborough.

He continues to explain: “In athletics, when you consider the number of countries competing – and the dominance of certain countries in certain events – you’re working in a very competitive environment. To succeed means we’ve got to cover every single base and put everything we can in place that we possibly can. This is particularly challenging in a non-centralised system.”

Paulding is speaking in May at an NPI media open day where British Athletics throws open the doors to the well-appointed facilities behind its World Class Programme [WCP]. Based at the University of Loughborough, the NPI provides a central hub for about 40 members of British Athletics’ senior management, coaching and support staff – “it’s very much the engine room,” says Paulding – as they work to support the 130 athletes on Great Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic programmes.

Some are based here in Loughborough, such as Olympic, world and European medallist Martyn Rooney, 2015 European Under-20 pole vault champion Adam Hague, and World Para Athletics Championship long jump gold medallist Stef Reid. Others are based elsewhere in Britain or even abroad; and British Athletics’ objective is the same all cases: “Our job is to work with them, influence them, add value, and make sure what they’re getting is the best it can be and to supplement that where possible. Every decision we make has an impact on cost or time.”

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