GB Para-cycling lead coach Chris Furber admitted that his move to British Swimming has come at the “right time”.
Furber left British Cycling yesterday after 13 years ahead of him commencing his role as Disability National Performance Director at BS on May 13.
In his seven-year spell working with this country’s leading para-cyclists, he has helped them top the medal table at the Beijing and London Paralympic Games.
“British Cycling has been a big part of my life for 13 years, but I felt the time was right to embark on a new challenge,” he told Cycling Weekly last month.
“I was fully prepared to stay until after Rio, but I received a call from British Swimming about the position there.
“I never thought I would get it, and when they offered it to me, it was a big decision to accept.”
“Sea change in the sport”
Furber joined BC in 2000, and started off as a BMX and mountain bike administrator. Two years in he became a coach for the north west Talent Team and worked with teenagers Jason Kenny, Shanaze Reade and Matt Crampton.
But it was with the GB Para-cycling team that he made his name.
“The job came up in 2006 – [National Sprint Coach] Iain Dyer told me to put my name forward for it, I spoke to Dave Brailsford about it too and it made sense to apply,” he recalls.
Furber celebrates another medal at the London Paralympics
Britain finished fourth in the medal table at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, although Australia, then the world’s best, won more golds than Britain’s combined medal tally.
“We were at the beginning of the sea change in para-cycling. I think the standard was fairly low at the time, which is completely different to what we saw at the London Games last summer.
“What the British team achieved in Beijing [17 golds and three silver medals] set the benchmark for the rest of the world to follow. The team in 2008 were an incredible bunch of athletes, and a great group of people to work with.”
Furber has a similar challenge in his new role: Britain finished seventh in the pool in the London, down from second in 2004.
“They’re looking for change – their market share of gold medals has fallen since Athens,” he said.
“They’ve got some great athletes, coaches and behind the scenes staff, and I don’t think it will take much to get them back on track. I think a new, outside approach will help.”
He is the latest in an ever-growing list of BC employees who have been approached by other sports in need of improving performances.
Matt Parker went from being Head of Marginal Gains to Head of Athletic Performance for the England Rugby Team, and former sprint coach Scott Parker was today appointed as GB Canoeing Head Sprint Coach.
Jon-Allan Butterworth and Furber inside the London Velodrome
“I think when people see you have ‘British Cycling’ written on your CV, it is highly attractive,” said Furber.
“There’s the success, but it is not just that. I think the attention to detail, the winning mindset, the questioning approach are also just as important.”
Although he will swap the track and the road for the swimming pool in his new role, some things will be fairly similar for Furber.
“My last trip with the GB Para-cycling team was to Majorca, and my first in my job is there as well!”