Aussie swimming coach slams late night Olympic finals
Australian head coach Jacco Verhaeren has described the apparent decision to stage the swimming finals at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro at 10pm as showing "a lack of respect".
Doha: Australian head coach Jacco Verhaeren has described the apparent decision to stage the swimming finals at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro at 10pm as showing "a lack of respect".
While there has been no formal announcement confirming this to be the case, neither has the International Olympic Committee (IOC) moved to dismiss reports of late-night starts.
Instead IOC spokesman Mark Adams said: "There was no formal decision on the schedule, but the schedule is one that has broad acceptance.
"The games are a global event that will be seen around the world and the schedule has to work around the world to give the best showcase for each sport," he said, adding "the athletes are at the very centre of that."
"The athletes are happy in the case of swimming. FINA are happy."
Such an assertion, though, is directly contradicted by Verhaeren who has guided one of the world`s biggest swimming nations since January 2014.
Dutchman Verhaeren has coached at the last five Games and guided freestyler Pieter van den Hoogenband to three titles at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics.
He also oversaw Dutch success in London in 2012 including Ranomi Kromowidjojo`s triple gold.
The Dutchman, therefore, has proven pedigree and he told AFP: "It`s simple. It`s a lack of respect."
The 45-year-old also pointed to the repercussions for others, adding: "I am not so concerned about not being able to perform at that time because I think whatever we prepare for we are able to do - if it is morning, midnight or afternoon.
"But that doesn`t mean it`s a good choice and it`s not a good choice.
"I think first of all you have to respect the place where the Olympics are (being held) and respect the people there.
"We are not swimming only for America, we are swimming for the world.
"I think it would show respect to the Brazilian people to have it at normal times. It would show more respect to the athletes. It is a concept that has never been tried out.
"We don`t know how it works in terms of performance, in terms of health and preparation.
"Clearly the choice is not made for performance reasons. There is only one reason and that is television and money and only American television and money and that to me is not really fair.
"I think the biggest concern is the life in the village because athletes return to the village after swim down and maybe drug testing at 2am.
"They still need to have dinner because their whole time shifts. How to deal with that in an Olympic village where other sports wake up in the morning and you are trying to go to bed, there is a disturbing factor for other sports as well.
"For me it`s about not enough respect for other athletes."
For the coaches, the late-night start means devising and implementing strategies to prepare the athletes as best they can.
Taking those on board is what matters to the swimmer who is focused on his or her preparation.
Eleven-time Olympic medallist Ryan Lochte said: "They could be at 2am or 3am or any time of day. All it is is about racing and I know that Team USA will be ready no matter what time the meet starts.
"Preparation? It`s just repetition. That is what they are going to do.
"They`ll probably start swimming a little later in the States, just getting ready and when the time comes we will just get to be ready."
British triple European champion Fran Halsall added: "I am not a morning girl so having it like that suits me a bit better so I have no problems with it."
She did though believe the athletes` needs and wishes should be the priority.
"You`re right in the sense that the athletes should be the first (to be consulted) but at the same time we want it to be on telly and we want people to see the sport and see it in a good light and have prime time viewing because that is also good for the athletes.
"It`s a difficult one really but as athletes it is our job to get up and swim when we are asked to at whatever time that is."