GB rowing coaching culture 'hard' but falls short of bullying, says review

Paul Thompson
Australia-born Paul Thompson acquired British nationality in 2007

British Rowing's coaching culture is "hard" and "unrelenting" but is short of bullying, says an internal inquiry.

Former Great Britain rower Emily Taylor called coach Paul Thompson a "massive bully" in June, prompting the review.

His handling of double sculls crew of Vicky Thornley and Katherine Grainger was also questioned.

After Taylor complained, Thompson said he did not consider himself a bully and that his "recollection of the situation" differed from hers.

The internal review stated that more care needed to be taken of athletes' well-being.

It also recommended creating a "more inclusive environment" with "greater focus on the effects of stress on performance and well-being".

"There is a need to address the perception of balance between the different squads on the High Performance Programme," the review stated.

"The leadership must understand and define the limits on what is an acceptable sub-culture."

Taylor was selected in the original squad for the London 2012 Olympics but was left out of the women's eight and retired after the Games.

Thompson was criticised by Thornley's boyfriend Rick Egington, who won Olympic medals in the men's eight in both 2008 and 2012.

Egington said that Thompson had "mismanaged" Thornley and Grainger's partnership in the run-up to the Rio Games, as they attempted to win places in the women's eight following disappointing early-season form in 2016.

That plan to win those places was scrapped after they failed to meet the required standard. After reforming as a double sculls pair, Thornley and Grainger won a surprise silver medal in Rio.

Athletes and coaches from both the current and previous set-up were able to give evidence confidentially on their dealings with Thompson, who joined British Rowing in 2001.

His women and lightweight crews won a gold and two silver medals at Rio, having won three golds and a silver at London four years earlier.

Vicky Thornley and Katherine Grainger
Katherine Grainger (right) won her fifth Olympic medal in Rio - matching the record total of British 1920s tennis star Kitty McKane

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