Another Ground-Breaking Step by British Rowing

Photo: British Rowing

27 January 2021

By Valery Kleshnev

Dr. Valery Kleshnev, who is a graduate sport scientist, silver Olympic medallist and established the research and development and consulting company BioRow Ltd in 2009, has some views of the new selection policy published by British Rowing last autumn.

Valery Kleshnev

As the new British Rowing Selection Policy for 2021–2024 was published in November, I simply cannot refrain from expressing my admiration for such a delightful document made by the wise and honest people who govern the lives of thousands of British rowers.

My main impression after reading this document is that it is excellently written and goes to its essence straight away in Section 2: “Subjective nature of selection decisions”, which is without doubt the finest work achieved by British Rowing so far. In p2.1, it was elegantly phrased that: “British Rowing does not consider it desirable to select crews based on hard-edged criteria”. Even better, in p2.2: “As such, British Rowing recognises that selection decisions should be made on a subjective basis, taking into account a variety of factors.” In essence, there are no “hard-edges” anymore: our athletes just need to “be a fit and proper person to represent British Rowing” (p10.1.15). The most logical next step would be to award medals at National regattas based on the subjective unanimous decisions of a selection panel, which would automatically reject those arrogant and selfish enough to follow their own way and pursue their individual goals.

Consequently, the rowing program must be changed to meet our standards: all singles events must be eliminated, because rowing is a team sport and we have no need for any of the selfish individualists that call themselves “single scullers”. If they do not want to share our teamworking approach, they must go to other sports like athletics or swimming. We are already moving in this direction, slowly, but steadily: for many years we have refrained from sending our single scullers to World regattas of various levels. We believe FISA would support our proposal and if not, we will push it through our powerful lobby there.

We can go further still – why do we even need races, if medals are not related to their results? Last year, we already made a decisive step in this direction: we cancelled most races for thousands of British rowers for the whole year. All those irresponsible Europeans competed at various National and continental regattas, putting the lives of their athletes and coaches at deadly risk, but we have shown to the whole World the best example of wise team management as a leading nation in the development of our sport.

After we eliminate all the hectic and unpredictable regattas from our life, we won’t need to train for them anymore! Really, what a waste of our time and effort; all those boring miles on the water and on the erg, heavy sweating and pain… Just imagine how much time and energy we will have for our youth to take part in teamwork commitments and networking!

The next step would be the removal of all coaches as a class: we don’t really need any of those overly ambitious people, who are obsessively studying the complicated details of rowing technique, physiology, biomechanics, training planning, etc. After all, we already appoint National coaches subjectively without any criteria, so we know much better what we need: just excellent team-players with good knowledge of our policies. This would also be beneficial due to the removal of all those nasty sport scientists, who still dare to disturb us with their formulas and charts.

And finally, without training and coaching, we won’t need rowing clubs anymore: they are just wasted space and expenses, which could be more productively used for the meetings of our selection panels and teamworking worships. Savings on these resources would mean that more taxpayers money could flow into the pockets of British Rowing employees, which would allow them to further ‘develop’ our sport.

I would like to congratulate British Rowing with another brilliant mile-stone document, though it is a pity that the great teamworkers who authored it were not able to overcome their modesty to reveal their names. Unfortunately, I cannot conquer my arrogance and resist the selfish temptation to put my name on this short note, putting me to shame compared to those excellent anonymous authors from British Rowing.

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