BT Sport Performance Department  Update

Update from Steve Jennings – Operations Manager

Hi everyone,

Unfortunately, our Summer Seminars got off to the worst possible start recently, as the National Centre went into lockdown and we were required to cancel, at the eleventh hour ,our very first BT session on the 3rd July. There was a concern at the speed in which the Delta variant of Covid 19 was spreading and the decision was taken by the GB Taekwondo Board that we understandably needed to protect our Olympic/Paralympic athletes and staff involved in Tokyo, from any type of avoidable exposure. This was incredibly frustrating for everybody involved, and we again send our sincere apologies that on this occasion we were unable to deliver on our promise.

Some of you may have noticed though that the GB Development Squad were allowed to hold a session at the National Centre last weekend, and are scheduled to hold another in a couple of weeks’ time. I guess people will rightly question why they are allowed, whilst our session had to be cancelled – so I wanted to be proactive and try to provide some context. Please note this is not my opinion or that of our department ,I am simply providing the facts. Initially the GB Board wanted nobody from outside of the academy bubble to use the National Centre because it was so close to the team departing for the Games. However, for the development squad last weekend, it was deemed a far lower risk because the Olympic Squad and coaching staff had finished all of their preparations, so technically there is no chance of them being caught up in any Covid complications.

The current restrictions imposed at the National Centre will be lifted very soon, and we will, finally, be able to move forward with the next of our planned sessions.

Sport Seminars – Dates for your diary


  • Seminar 2 – Saturday 14th August
  • Seminar 3 – Saturday 4th September
  • Seminar 4 – Saturday 2nd October

Summer Seminar 14th August

I am ecstatic to announce our next superstar guest when Aaron Cook will join us for our session.

Aaron is a phenomenon, he still remains the only athlete to win European Gold Medals at every age group, Cadets, Juniors, -21’s & Seniors. He has been Senior European Champion 3 times and has performed at the highest level winning 2 x World Championship Medals. Aaron is also a 2 x Olympian.

Aaron is one of the most exciting fighters in the World, spectators literally flock to watch him compete and so we are extremely lucky that he understands what we are trying to build and that he would like to be part of it. After an incredibly tough 18 months I am thrilled to be bringing this opportunity to our athletes and would like to thank Rebecca McGowan, Aaron and our future guests for giving up their time and showing their support for us.

If you would like to join us on 14th August, to find out more and sign up follow this link

Please note: Priority will be given to those who registered for the cancelled training event on 3rd July


2020 Cadet Squad

We have recently had questions as to what is happening with the current National Cadet Squad. Unfortunately for those athletes that were selected back in February 2020 there has been very little activity and they have undoubtedly missed out when comparing with previous years, but we have very little choice but to look forward. We decided against holding sessions solely for the “2020 Cadet Squad” because some of these athletes were no longer cadets & some of them are no longer even registered with British Taekwondo. There is also a crop of talented youngsters that were children last year, so were the wrong age to be part of the previous Cadet Squad but are undoubtedly ready now and this group would have also missed out.

With the intention of catering to a wider group of athletes and ensure none of the above age groups were left out we have started our activities a bit more inclusive. This will remain the case until November 2021 when sessions will become slightly more exclusive.

Future Squad Selection

British Taekwondo are planning to host the National Championships in November, and in the interest of objectivity our intention is to use this event to select our first squads. We intend to have National Development camps for Cadet, Junior & Senior age groups and moving forward the National Championships will become very important.

We will use very straightforward criteria with regards to selecting our first and all future squads.

  • Win a medal in the advanced categories at the National Championships (Cadet/Junior/Senior)
  • Win a medal at any G1/G2 in the preceding 12 months.
  • Promoted by the coaching team*

*Coaching team opinion is clearly not objective and so this criteria will be used infrequently but I feel we need this caveat in order to allow talented individuals to flourish. A couple of examples would be a “Next Gen” athlete that us and their coach feel may thrive by moving up an age group or a talented individual missing the Nationals with an injury but are clearly skilled enough to be part of the squad etc.

Squad Activities

As soon as the Nationals are complete then we will commence with our National Squad Activities. We intend to do at least one session per month and these will be open to Cadet, Junior & Senior athletes. Junior athletes have potential to be part of both our squad and the GB Development Programme if they wish. Our strategy moving forward is to take the European -21 Championships very seriously, hence the decision to provide development opportunities for Senior athletes also

Head Coach Update
Our department was dealt a blow recently, when our Head Coach, Siva Ramasamy announced his resignation from the role. Siva is incredibly passionate and highly motivated to see our department become a success; however, a change of personal circumstance meant it was increasingly difficult for him to offer the necessary time and energy commitments required for this demanding role.

Siva has been integral to us in helping create the 5-year strategy & vision for the department and for this we thank him for his hard work. Fortunately for us Siva will continue his roles within British Taekwondo and part of his position as a Board Director is to offer both support and challenge to our department so I am very pleased that Siva will stay closely linked to us. It has been a pleasure and an education working with Siva and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. We would like to thank him for his commitment and contribution, and we appreciate him offering his invaluable experience moving forward albeit in a slightly differing role.

We are currently considering all options with regards to how we move forward but it is looking increasingly likely that we will change the current structure of the department. Rather than looking to appoint another head coach we will look to build a team of coaches that are able to deliver our vision.

Coaching Team Recruitment

In order to deliver on this ambition, we aim to recruit 5 or 6 coaches to be part of our team. I am hoping to have the application process live in the next week but will also provide some context here. Myself and our Department Chair, Neil Parsley have a huge passion for coaching and personal development and are excited to start the recruitment process.

One thing that is non-negotiable for us is that we need to see our applicants and potential coaches in action. If you make the shortlist you will be asked to attend one of our Summer Seminars and assist in the delivery of the session. This will be the first part of the interview process and myself & Neil will follow up with a zoom call as the 2nd and final part of the process. As our Seminars do not finish until October it will take approx 3 months until we finalise our coaching team.

We were overwhelmed with the number of coaches that offered their services for our first Summer Seminar, so I am expecting a similar response once this application opens. Naturally, some applicants will end up disappointed but moving forward we intend to keep a close working relationship with all coaches that are keen to be part of what we are building, we are hopeful of providing some online education to all interested coaches towards the back end of the year.

Finally, It was really tough for all of the members of our department to shake off the disappointment of not being able to get started with our on the mat activities last week. Donna Thomas & Daniel Flesher put in so much work and their own time behind the scenes – only to see it unravel and beyond their control.

But we dust ourselves off, get back to it & thank you to everyone for being so understanding.

We look forward to seeing some of you on 14th August


Steve Jennings – on behalf of the Sport Performance Department