British judo chief blasts Games failure

British Judo Association (BJA) president Densign White slammed the country's fighters and club coaches on Tuesday for the failure of the hosts' team at the London Olympics.

Four days into the judo competition, eight Britons have competed so far but only one has won a fight.

Seven others lost in the first round, including one of Britain's best medal chances, Euan Burton, who lasted just 45-seconds in the under-81kg division against Canada's Antoine Valois-Fortier.

Although there are still three days left and veteran four-time European champion and seven-time world medallist Karina Bryant is yet to fight in the women's heavyweight category, the current results make for a sorry sight.

And White blames the athletes themselves and their club coaches for refusing to train at the British Performance Institute in Dartford, east of London.

The facility was built by Dartford Council and leased by the BJA with the view to providing a centralised training venue where the country's best fighters could all practise together.

However, many fighters opted to remain with their personal coaches.

"That's what we tried to get away from after the team didn't get any results in Beijing," White told AFP.

"But we didn't get buy-in from players...everybody wants to train with their own coach in their environment."

Just a year ago White, himself a former British Olympic judo fighter, sacked high performance coaches Patrick Roux and Margaret Hicks following the failure to win a medal at the World Championships and he blamed the pair for not delivering on their obligations.

"One of the reasons why Margaret and Patrick lost their jobs is because they said we need to centralise, but they didn't do it," added White.

"Every six months they came up with a different excuse, but what are we waiting for? If we know what to do, then we should just do it.

"I feel a huge sense of frustration and huge disappointment.

"If I was leading high performance it would be no compromise and I'd be saying to the athletes 'ok stay there (in your clubs) but you're not going to be selected'.

"I'd take the risk of them taking me to court, I'd cut off their funding and tell them when you turn up to this place that's when you'll get your money back and get selected, and until you do that your careers are over.

"And then concentrate on the people who want to do it and if it takes another five or six years to bring through those 16 and 17 year-olds and work with a new set of athletes, to find the next generation, it might not work for Rio (which will still stage the 2016 Games) but we've got to look to 2020."

As the head of British judo, White has ultimate responsibility for its results, but he insisted he was powerless to make things happen.

"One of the reasons is because we live in a democracy, we cannot force athletes to do something they don't want to do," he said.

 

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