The British Cycling Team put in a spectacular performance at this year’s World Track Championships. The medal haul included seven golds, three of them for Vicky Pendleton. Meanwhile Nicole Cooke looks to be laying the groundwork for another World Cup win.
Britain’s cyclists are outstanding (and proficient). Meanwhile the British teams seem to be doing significantly less well in other sports. Grim predictions see no athletics medals for the British team at the next Olympics, Britain’s swimmers aren’t keeping up with Australian and American rivals, gymnasts aren’t wiping the floor with rivals.
So if you were in charge of funding UK sports with a view to a good showing in the Olympic medal table in 2012, who would you be backing?
There’s an argument to be made that underperforming sports need a boost, more money would allow more people to train full time or buy equipment. England’s footballers earn a reasonable amount of money and have time to train and practice with some quite good team mates, but don’t seem to be making the most of it.
British Cycling has had funding, but not on the scale of other sports, yet they are putting in outstanding performances, well above what could reasonably be expected of the team.
When you’re next looking to decide where to invest your learning and development budgets, think about what the outputs will be. Investing in people who already perform well and work hard tends to pay off quicker and over a longer term than remedial investment in mediocre performers.