Former ice skating champion urges a coaching overhaul

A former British figure skating champion has warned the country is failing to produce international stars because of a lack of funding and a culture of infighting among coaches.

John Hamer, who won gold in the British championships in 2005, 2006 and 2007, said that a fear of poaching among coaches was having a stultifying effect on the sport.

“We do build up very good talent in the UK but they often don’t have the money to push themselves to the highest level, and they are encouraged to seek coaching abroad.

“There is too much one on one in coaching.

“In my professional opinion the only way we can get back on top is if we pool our resources and all work towards a common goal. We need more kids learning from each other and competing against each other.”


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The three times gold medallist, who quit competitive skating at the peak of his career because ‘there was no funding’, made the comments after leading a skating session for teenagers at Alexandra Palace ice rink, where he joined as a coach earlier this year.

Among his classes is a group of half a dozen teenage girls who he is taking through their first tentative skating steps, from balancing on ice to skating backwards.

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Hamer was 11 – the same age as some of the girls he is teaching – when he began skating.

While this is comparatively late for a future champion, Hamer is proof to perfect your skills in the international arena – but only if proper coaching is in place, he insists.

“We have spent a lot of money on this ice rink and we have the opportunity to send these kids with a lot of potential to a higher level. But it is a shame that when we take them to this higher level, there isn’t always the support structure there.

“We could do better, but if we are getting just a quarter of a million pounds and doing alright then I think people are getting a lot more bang for their buck compared with bigger sports like football.

“Just think what we could do with a bit more interest and a bit more money.”

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