GB Boxing’s Performance Director, Rob McCracken reflects on the first month back in the gym since the squad returned to training on 8 June 2020 and says the boxers are ‘getting back to where we want them to be’.
You have been back in the gym for one month now. How would you assess it?
“It has gone very well. We began with a group of 13 and have gradually increased it to the point where we will have 24 boxers in this week.
“You can really see the impact on those boxers that have been in for four weeks now. Their fitness has improved and they are getting back to where we want them to be. Once we get the rest of the group up to that level we will be in a very good position.
“The reintroduction of contact boxing (which means the boxers can spar and do pads with the coaches) has been a big help. It has enabled us to do some really good quality work with the boxers and get training back to something approaching normal.”
What have been the main changes you have had to make?
“We have closely followed the Government’s Elite Sport Return to Training Guidance which has meant that we have had to put a lot of additional measures in place in terms daily screening for the boxers and hygiene throughout the training and living environment.
“The boxers have their temperature taken before they are allowed into the gym and work in specific groups to limit mixing. It’s a new way of working but people have adapted well and we have not had any issues.”
How has the reintroduction of contact boxing gone?
“It’s been good. The boxers are now doing technical and open sparring and pads with the coaches so the quality of training has increased significantly.
“We have strict protocols in place, so sparring is confined to designated groups of boxers and pads sessions can only take place if the coaches are in personal protective equipment (PPE) and the boxers wear a face mask. It’s a bit unusual at first but people soon get used to it and the sessions are going really well.”
Is it a lot more work for the coaches?
“The additional hygiene measures and screening of the boxers does mean there is more work involved for the coaches but they have all been brilliant and just got on with it.
“They are not the type of people that complain. They just get on with the job and do what needs to be done. Their focus and priority is simply on doing everything they can to help the boxers.”
How have the boxers found the return to training?
“The boxers have been excellent. The coaches did a great job of keeping them ticking over while they were in lockdown but they were still keen to get back into the gym. They like to train as a group and the routine of three sessions a day gives them structure.
“The boxers have had to adapt to the monitoring and are expected to observe the hygiene and social distancing protocols we have in place, but they have managed well and we have not had any issues. They recognise that a lot of people are going to a lot of effort for their benefit, so they are playing their part in making sure training camps run smoothly.”
What are the boxers doing in camp?
“We are pretty much following what we do in a normal training week, so the boxers are in camp from Monday to Thursday. They run early in the morning and then do either a technical session or strength and conditioning. In the afternoon they have the big boxing session in the gym when they do bags, pads and sparring so it’s like a normal training camp.
“We have one of the physios in camp so that we can treat and manage any injuries or niggles.”
What about the boxers that are not yet in camp?
“We have most of the Podium squad back in the gym apart from a couple that have injuries and are doing rehabilitation work at home.
“We are planning to get the Podium Potential group back so that we can start running Thursday to Sunday camps for them. Provided everything continues to progress well, I would hope we can get them re-started sometime in August.
“In the meantime, those boxers all have individualised training plans they are working to and are taking part in Zoom sessions with the coaches so we are all connected and there is a lot of interaction.”
“The two main priorities are to get the Podium boxers to a point where they can start having international training camps with a view to competing again, whilst at the same time looking to bring the Podium Potential group back in for regular camps.
“We are at stage 2 of the Government’s Elite Sport Return to Training Guidance and international competition is stage 4, so there is still some way to go, but we are making good progress and I am hopeful we can get there.”