U.K. Sport will "launch an elite coaching programme that it hopes will strike fear into Great Britain's rivals on the road" to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, according to James Riach of the London GUARDIAN. The organization aims to develop 12 high achieving coaches from "world class level to world leading" during the three-year period up to the 2016 Games at a cost of £720,000 ($1.1M), with sports such as boxing, rowing, judo and canoeing "expected to emulate the success of British cycling." U.K. Sport "is also set to significantly increase its funding for coaches during the next Olympic cycle." It hopes the program "will see Britain build on the success of last summer" and avoid a backward step comparable to Australia's, which hosted the Olympics in '00 but finished 10th in the '12 medal table. U.K. Sport Head of Coaching Graham Taylor said: "My aim is for other sporting nations to be scared of coming to Britain and competing because our coaches are at such a level that they find it hard to compete against our athletes and our teams. The rest of the world is getting super competitive." A key element of the new program "is the coach journey tracker system that was piloted during and after London 2012, aimed at helping coaches make better decisions for their athletes' development" (GUARDIAN, 11/25).
With just more than 14 months to go before the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics, organizers said that "they are on track to deliver all the venues, with some works concluded ahead of schedule," according to RUSSIA TODAY. Built from scratch, along with the supporting infrastructure, "the Olympic park is now looking more like the final product than ever." The Iceberg Skating Palace will "go on trial" when it welcomes the Figure Skating Grand Prix Finale on Dec. 6-9. The Bolshoi Ice Dome and adjacent Shaiba Arena will host Olympic ice hockey matches, "with the final touches underway at both spots as they also prepare for major int'l test events" in early '13. Construction supervisor Murat Ahmadiev said, "This three-year construction will soon be over. Right now, we are in the process of laying down the asphalt and applying the finishing touches." Officials "are now putting the final sheen on the Adler Arena," which will become home to the speed skaters. Its first competition is also scheduled for early '13 (RT, 11/26).