The World Class Performance Programme (WCPP) is led by Rob McCracken who oversees a team of seven full-time coaches, up to 20 part-time coaches and a range of performance staff who are responsible for specific areas of expertise such as nutrition, coach education and development and identifying, recruiting and developing new talent.
This group is supported by a large group of sport science and medical practitioners from the English Institute of Sport (EIS) that are contracted to work with GB Boxing. These include Doctors and practitioners in a range of specialities including Physiotherapy, Physiology, Strength & Conditioning, Performance Psychology, Performance Analysis and Performance Lifestyle.
Here we take the chance to get to know some of the faces behind GB Boxing’s success, this time we meet Head of Performance Support, Ian Gatt.
How long have you been with GB Boxing?
I have been with GB Boxing for 11 years collaborating with our performance director, coaches, boxers and rest of support staff at either our home base in Sheffield, international training camps and competitions of all levels. I have lost count of all the countries I have visited with this amazing sport and can’t believe how time has flown!
Previously I worked in Greece with professional sports, and Olympic athletes in the lead-up and during the Athens 2004 Games. I then spent time with GB Volleyball, before joining the GB Boxing ranks. I feel privileged to date, having been involved with athletes from a variety of sports however, boxing will always have a special affinity for me.
What are the key aspects of your role?
My role involves optimising athlete health and maximising performance. I do that by engaging all the sports science and medicine practitioners, and collaborating with the PD, coaches, athletes, and rest of the management team ensuring we have the best decision-making process. We do this through effective communication and reviewing supportive data we collect. Even during this lockdown, we are looking at how to improve our strategies to best support our boxers.
I am also engaged with the wider network at the English Institute of Sport (EIS). I am an Upper Limb injury specialist with a keen interest in the Hand-Wrist region, which is our bread and butter in boxing. Through my numerous years of experience, I help fellow EIS colleagues in other sports with difficult cases that may arise. The EIS is a great organisation, which in turn is always supporting boxing with expertise and technology.
Which element of your job do you enjoy the most?
Problem solving and Innovation, through collective thinking is what really drives me. I relish the opportunity to tackle a problematic topic with other multidisciplinary colleagues, coaches and athletes. Two projects which we have successfully implemented as part of a great collaborative process were ‘Cuts’ and ‘Knuckles’.
These were aimed at managing facial cuts and reducing knuckle injuries, which were both impacting on athlete availability in the beginning of the Rio cycle. They were both interesting projects where we had great success, with the strategies still currently implemented.
What has been your most enjoyable experience of working with GB Boxing?
I have had numerous experiences so naming one is difficult. Seeing your champions win and make history are however precious moments which will last a lifetime. Wrapping Anthony Joshua’s hands prior to his incredible win against the boxer from Italy in the final at London 2012, assisting Joshua Buatsi in his warm-up against the boxer from Uzbekistan at Rio 2016, or being part of Nicola Adam’s entourage for every major medal she won as an amateur boxer with GB Boxing; European, World, Commonwealth and Double Olympics were all unforgettable experiences.
At GB Boxing we are a big team that support these boxers and we do a fantastic job behind the scenes to ensure ring readiness. So, you can imagine when the national anthem is playing, your boxer is standing on the highest place of the podium, it is a great feeling to have somehow been part of this journey.
What is the best thing about working at GB Boxing?
The people and the infrastructure are what make this job brilliant. We have a great training hub in Sheffield, with state-of-the-art technology and a hall of fame wall reminding us of the success and pride this sport has brought to so many. Then you must imagine every time one enters those gym doors there is this ‘buzzing’ that greets you.
The gym is packed and energetic with everyone focused on their task however, one and all will readily greet you with a warm smile and a handshake or fist bump. The best thing is about working with people who care about you. This is what makes GB Boxing truly special!
Describe GB Boxing in three words.
Family. Driven. Inspiring.
Lastly, how have you had to adapt your role during the lockdown restrictions?
In truth, my role has stayed the same which is connecting individuals to common goals, empowering people to perform their duties. Obviously, we are not meeting face-to-face as we were in Sheffield pre-lockdown. In turn, providing a better rationale for every online meeting to be strategic allowing optimal work-life balance.
I have provided, and received, more support during this period which is understandable. A big thumbs up therefore goes to GB Boxing, and the English Institute of Sport (and home nations plus respective partners), for the networking capabilities provided. It has been a quick learning experience for all.
It has also been an opportunity to check in more regularly with my team, safeguarding both mental and physical wellbeing. We have a very engaged team and facilitating this process on a weekly basis has been one of the most important aspects of my role.
With the support from key members of my team, I aim to sense check how people are doing ensuring that we all stay positively connected. Good thing is we are all in great spirits at GB Boxing!