British Triathlon Performance Director, Brendan Purcell, starts his new role at British Rowing tomorrow. During his time at British Triathlon, athletes won three Olympic and four Paralympic medals as well as a host of world and European titles, but that is only part of the story.
In his own words, the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games were the stand out highlights of his time at British Triathlon, which commenced in January 2013.
Commenting on that, he said: “I’ve been privileged to be involved in so many different highlights, but how the staff operated and contributed to create an environment that allowed the athletes to deliver those exceptional and memorable performances in Rio was special. There was a real sense of us all collaborating and contributing but understanding that we are in the background.”
He added: “Another highlight was seeing athletes overcome serious injury and adversity and stay positive and work through it. The third thing was the ADF (Athlete Development Framework), which is really significant because it guides the sport and the development of athletes and it’s true to the culture of the sport, it’s not been prescribed so it’s really important to me.”
In terms of what he’ll take from triathlon into rowing, Purcell has learned a lot about athlete ownership, commenting: “Triathletes embody athlete ownership. But it’s not a passive process from the coaches, we work to facilitate, support and embrace it. It’s difficult but it’s actually really rewarding if we get it right because athletes are able to excel and be exceptional.”
As the baton is handed to a new Performance Director to oversee the Olympic and Paralympic programmes, he believes the sport has an exciting future. “From the athletes involved now to the athletes coming though, and the product of the mixed team relay, we are in an exceptionally exciting era. What’s really important is that we have athletes now identifying as triathletes from an early age, and that really bodes well for the future of the sport.”
He concluded: “I will miss the people, they are an exceptional group of athletes and staff and I’ve been privileged to work with them.”
British Triathlon CEO, Andy Salmon said: “There is nothing but praise and gratitude for what Brendan brought to our sport. Our performance team is better and stronger as a result of his input, and I am sure he will go on to make a huge contribution to British Rowing.
“We have recently conducted interviews for a new Performance Director and will be announcing the new appointment very shortly. Our brief is very much for them to continue where Brendan left off. The sport is in a good position, not just in terms of performance, but how we work with athletes in and out of the training and competition environments as well.”