Team GB Member Accuses Former Coach Of ‘Destroying Athletes’

by : Daniel Richardson on : 30 Jul 2021 15:05
Team GB Member Slams Former Coach For 'Destroying Athletes'PA Images

Team GB Olympian Josh Bugajski has said that his famed former coach Jurgen Grobler destroyed his athletes.

Behind every great Olympian is a dedicated coaching staff that support the athletes in their challenges. While many take different approaches to get the best out of a competitor, few have been blasted for their approach.


Nonetheless, after Team GB suffered their worst Olympic regatta performance in 45 years, a rower has blasted former coach Jurgen Grobler.

Team GB row (PA Images)PA Images

Team GB rowers managed to get two medals, a silver and a bronze, after being funded by £24.6 million of Lottery money over the last five-year cycle. This is the worst performance since 1976 and many have wondered what has gone wrong.

Jurgen Grobler, aged 74, is an East German coach who has worked with a gold medal crew at every Olympics he has attended since 1972. This is an unparalleled record, but oarsmen Josh Bugajski, who won bronze in the men’s eight on Friday, July 30, had an issue with the coach who left his position before the games.


Bugajski said, ‘I will admit, he’s a good coach to some people. But there were some people he just seemed to take a disliking to. What he did to them was just destroy them – destroy their soul, destroy everything they had,’ The Telegraph reports.

Expanding on this, the rower said:

He had complete power. If you didn’t get funding for a boat, your funding was never going to go up.

I was pretty much broke for a year or so. My relationship suffered, my friendships suffered. Everything suffered. I’m very grateful to have a wonderful fiancee, a wonderful family back home. They look after me whenever they can.

Jurgen Grobler (PA Images)PA Images

However, Bugajski doesn’t speak for the entire Olympic team. Olympic medal winner Moe Sbihi dedicated his medal to his former coach, saying, ‘I spoke to him briefly only this week – just to say thank you to him. I feel very grateful for the legacy he has put in place.’ Additionally, Vicky Thornley, who finished fourth in the single sculls at the Sea Forest Seaway after winning a gold medal in the double sculls in Rio, has discussed her admiration for the former coach.

Many have attributed this split of opinion, and lack of expected success in the games, to a transitional period.

As per the MailOnline, British Rowing performance director Brendan Purcell discussed the intensity of training:

For every individual, that’s a difficult mix to find. Some people thrive on challenge 24 hours a day. Some don’t. I don’t think we always got that balance quite right.

If you want to be the world’s best, these guys are going to go away and be really frustrated, disappointed, heartbroken and you can’t just go through the motions, you have to go beyond where you think your limits are and sometimes that’s going to mean someone helping to nudge you when you think you can’t do any more.


Purcell added, ‘We are a programme in transition. We were talking with Jurgen about where we were moving forward. He decided it was the right time to move on.’

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Daniel Richardson

After graduating from university, Dan went on to work with a variety of tech startups and media outlets. These included the likes of The Hook, WhatCulture and Game Rant. Eventually, Dan found a home for his journalism at UNILAD.

Topics: Sport, Now, Olympics, Tokyo


The Telegraph
  1. The Telegraph

    Team GB rower launches extraordinary attack on former coach after worst Olympics in 45 years: 'He destroys your soul'