British Swimming chief Sparkes seeks clear-the-air meeting with 'insulted' Adlington
01:33 GMT, 5 December 2012
British Swimming chief executive David Sparkes wants to set up an urgent meeting with Rebecca Adlington after the four-time Olympic medallist said she felt “insulted” by the governing body following the review into the team's under-performance in London.
The 23-year-old has been vocal over the last 24 hours, first criticising that there being no new head coach following Dennis Pursley's return to the United States immediately after the Games.
This was followed today by an interview in The Times in which she said: 'It's not good enough. I feel insulted, disheartened and saddened by the way they have ignored us, the swimmers, in all of this.'
Insulted: Rebecca Adlington (centre) was irritated that British Swimming were launching an investigation into this summer's performances
Adlington was one of only two British medallists, the other being Michael Jamieson, in the summer as the team fell short of their base target of five.
A review was announced immediately after but the decision of Michael Scott to resign as national performance director left the sport without an incumbent in two key roles.
Today British Swimming announced Mark Perry, currently head of development, would become interim technical leader with immediate effect with Graham Bassi moving from Swansea ITC to take on Perry's role.
It still may not quell the criticism and Sparkes wants to address the issues brought up by Adlington as well as other swimmers who have been vocal on Twitter.
He said: 'I don't quite yet know what the problem is but I hope to soon because I am desperately trying to set up an early meeting with Rebecca and her colleagues.
'We are just struggling to find a date that meets her needs at the moment.
“But we are working hard on it.'
He added: 'If Rebecca felt pretty strongly I am a pretty approachable kind of chap and if she had dropped me an email or have picked up the phone I would happily have met with her.
Happy Adlington managed to take a bronze at this summer's London Games
'I recognise she is pretty unhappy with me now – well with British Swimming – I want to put it right.
'I want to listen to her and hear what she is going to say. I am sure she has got some good stuff to say to us and I want to hear it.'
There has been a sense of isolation emanating from those who have been critical, something Sparkes queried, claiming Craig Hunter, who chaired the review panel, was frustrated by the low number of swimmers who became actively involved with American sports psychologist Katrina Radke – a point of contact for athletes to speak anonymously.
He said: 'I know Craig and his group tried really hard to get to the athletes and get their view but I equally know Craig himself was disappointed that more athletes did not participate, despite the fact he put in place some additional resources so they could either comment by email, if that was appropriate, or they could have a private interview.
'It's been suggested to me a lot of the athletes just wanted to move on rather than reflect on what had gone wrong to move forward.'
Neither does Sparkes agree they were rudderless given Scott only left at the end of last week, and believes accusations of delays are countered by the appointments of Perry and Bassi while Ian Mason, currently World Class director of operations across all aquatics programmes, will for the moment focus on swimming.
Look out, Chris: Adlington was with Frank Lampard and Sir Chris Hoy at the The Emeralds and Ivy Ball this weekend
The search for a permanent head coach and performance director are under way with Sparkes hoping to make appointments early in the new year, although he warned it could be as late as March.
In the meantime, Perry will agree selection policies and finalise the exact dates of the June trials for the World Championships in Barcelona.
In the review, published on Sunday, much was made about the need for improved communication.
And while Sparkes felt Scott had made strides, he did not feel that had been the case with Pursley.
The American has an unquestionable pedigree over many years in the United States but oversaw a team of which the vast majority failed to match their times from the trials at the Games a few months later.
Sparkes said: 'He's been around the block a few times.
'I think what he should have been is much more checking and challenging.
'He should have more influence than he did.'
Referring to Bill Sweetenham, the tough but effective former performance director, Sparkes said: 'I don't think we want to go back to 'Bill says…
Clear-the-air: Adlington is a four-time Olympic medallist
'I think the important thing is to empower our coaches to make the right decisions, but from time to time it is helpful if our boss takes an interest in our work.
'In some respects in the Sweetenham era it was “do as I say' and then Michael pulled the pendulum back to 'do what you think is right”.
'Maybe we need to get back slightly towards “hang on – we are not saying do as I say but let's all agree what we are going to do and let's work together to find the right strategy”.'
Scott's resignation was leaked to the press and, despite it not looking good, Sparkes had few concerns about this, saying: 'Leaks happen. I don't run a secret society, we are not MI5.'
While admitting the 25million swimming was awarded in the four years before London was not borne out by results, Sparkes insists he has never considered quitting himself.
'No. At the end of the day I have a much wider responsibility to the sport in the sense that I sit across the whole aspect of the sport and my job is to make sure there are more people swimming, we are building pools, we are getting on and driving forward on all the programmes.
'If you look at the results in the Paralympics they were broadly in line with the expectations, if you look at diving, water polo and synchro similarly.'