Furber looks back on successful 2016

29 Dec 2016

National Performance Director Chris Furber made the move to Para-Swimming in 2013 and has since driven the sport to some of its best ever results. 

Early into his role Furber brought Rob Greenwood in to work as the programme’s Head Coach and to be part of his strong leadership team.

He took over the role with the desire to move the sport back up the medal table and win more gold medals at the Paralympic Games.

The sport was the most successful for ParalympicsGB with 47 medals and made up almost a third of the total medal haul. The swimming team finished in third place in the medal table and won 16 gold medals.

“The Games panned out fantastically for us,” Furber said. “We went into Rio with a very clear vision – to be able to prepare our athletes to achieve lifetime best performances under the greatest of pressure.

“I was really pleased with how the team worked and stood together through until day 10. After London you could see the gold medal total was on a downward slide and we wanted to change that. We all believed we could achieve more and I was really proud of the whole team with the 16 gold medals that we won.

“The swimming pool was packed every day in Rio and it was an amazing experience for the whole team because the Brazilians were really loud. Our guys stepped up though and not only achieved medals but also personal bests.”

Rio 2016 was the first time that Furber led a swimming team at a Paralympic Games and the Brits set a total of eight world records with Bethany Firth finishing as the most decorated British Paralympian. 

“It was an intense 10 days of competition and my first experience of swimming at a Paralympic Games,” Furber said. “It’s a relentless programme with a lot of hard work and I’m proud of the support that our staffing team provided throughout the 20 back-to-back sessions.”

Through his three years at British Swimming he has worked with his team to create an ethos and joint vision for the programme.

“When I joined back in 2013 I worked closely with my senior management team of Rob [Greenwood], Sarah [Stewart-Hunter], Catherine [Gilby] and Craig [Nicholson] to create a shared culture for our programme. We had a shared conclusion that the culture of what we did was really important.

“We wanted to work a lot more on getting the athletes to understand more about training and why we do what we do in the water. We wanted to put something together that had some meaning behind it and that where our shared ethos came from. ROAR stands for Respect, Ownership, Achievement and Responsibility and it now stands behind everything that we do.

“It really hit what we were looking for and our aim is for athletes to start holding each other accountable for their actions. It will be an incredibly powerful thing and will show that our culture is really embedded into the athlete group.”

The sport has now begun the build-up to Tokyo 2020 and Furber believes that the sport can build with a desire to achieve even more come that 10-day competition in four-year’s time.

“We have had our funding agreed by UK Sport now and we thank them for their continued support and belief in our programme. Come Tokyo we simply want more,” Furber said.

“We know that the strategy and tactics we have can deliver performances for us so we want to grow that further. We have the knowledge and belief to continue to deliver on that big stage.”