Rio 2016: Planning for SA Para-cycling team success #formfollowsfunction

The maxim of all good architects is that “form follows function” - which means that a building must be planned to serve the function for which it is intended before consideration is given to the design of its form (what it will look like).

Switching the planning sequence around simply doesn’t work. A similar logic applies in planning the South African Para-cycling team’s participation in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games:  The plan’s function is to secure at least three Paralympic medals; its form is the approach through which this can be achieved.

Given its very obvious function, what then is the general design of the Rio 2016 plan for South African Para-cycling? On the surface, this appears quite simple, comprising as it does, three main components:  

  1. Phase 1 (already past), which included the period of transition from London 2012 to the current Rio 2016 quadrennial: focused on retaining the best performers of 2012 as potential riders for 2016 (e.g. through SASCOC’s OPEX athlete support programme);
  2. Phase 2 (just ending 2013-2014): aimed at establishing an expanded pool of competitive riders from which to ultimately select the Rio 2016 team; focused on providing high performance support to riders, informed by monitoring of training and the assessment of competition performance; and
  3. Phase 3 (2015/2016): focused on saturation high performance support and providing competition experience for the South African team of riders selected for Rio 2016.

The simplicity, as outlined above, allows for easy grasp and communication; however, it does not reveal the complex design of inter-connected elements that allow the plan to practically perform its function.

A few of these elements are outlined in the full Rio 2016: Planning for SA Para-cycling team success document. The full report outlines: identifying ‘best of the best’ riders, securing Paralympic slots, high performance investment, and up-stream monitoring and directing of rider training; down-stream assessment of performance.