Wed, Feb 20, 2013 - Page 20 News List

‘Toxic’ culture fueled Aussie swimming flop

Reuters, SYDNEY

Once the expected medal haul failed to materialize over the first few days of the Games, team morale plummeted.

“Swimmers described these Games as the ‘Lonely Olympics’ and the ‘Individual Olympics,’” it added. “There was not much connection between groups of athletes, or between athletes, staff and coaches, other than what was engineered reactively. At its least attractive, the team dynamic became like a schoolyard clamour for attention and influence.”

The report made a raft of recommendations on areas such as standards and accountability, how to build better lines of communication both inside the team and with the media, as well as on building community in the team.

It also recommended head coach Leigh Nugent be sent on an “an intensive coach-the-coach leadership program” for three to six months.

Nugent said he would happily undergo training, but was unhappy with the use of the word “toxic” to describe the environment.

“It’s a pretty emotive word,” he told reporters in Canberra. “I am not really sure what that means. Behavioral issues were not overtly obvious.”

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