Charles van Commenee is one of the world's leading experts on managing performance and creating a high performance culture; initially as personal coach to a number of elite athletes who won medals at Olympic Games and World Championships, then as Technical Director for Dutch and British Athletics and finally as Performance Director for the Dutch Olympic Committee and later for British Athletics.
To enjoy not only a one-off success but rather a prolonged period of steadily improving back-to-back successes, one needs to build the right culture within an organisation. This is even more important in an environment where competition is strong and the margins for success are small. Under the guidance of a leader with strong coaching skills, team members are challenged and inspired to change, creating a climate where only the best is good enough.
Dubbed the “Volcano”, the disciplinarian Dutchman pushes his athletes to the limit and makes a habit of exceeding targets. In 1994, Charles started working with British athlete Denise Lewis. Under Charles, Denise would go on to become champion at both the Commonwealth Games and European Championships in 1998 before taking a silver medal at the 1999 World Championships.
At the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games Denise took gold to become Olympic Champion. She put much of her success and ‘drive to win' down to the fact that Charles had been so focused.
Following his success with Denise Lewis, in 2001 Charles was appointed by UK Athletics as the technical director for the jumps and combined events. As director he took on responsibilities for British athletes including Dean Macey, Ashia Hansen and Jonathan Edwards, though they all retained personal coaches.
In 2003, Kelly Sotherton joined his training group. Ranked 57th in the world for the heptathlon, she went onto to win the bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, though Charles was unhappy with Kelly feeling she could have won the silver. However Kelly went onto say “People have to remember that Charles was the one who got me in the position to be an Olympic medallist…I don't think any other coach could have got me to where he did.”
In Britain, Charles van Commenee’s achievements were rewarded by being honoured as the first foreign coach to be inducted in the ‘British Coaching Hall of Fame'. Between 2004 and 2008 he held the position of Performance Director for the Dutch Olympic Committee responsible for all sports in the Netherlands.
At the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008 Charles was named as Chef de Mission of the Dutch Olympic Team and as such was in charge of the complete team of 350 members resulting in their second best result ever.
Following the Beijing Games he returned to the UK to take up the role as Head Coach of the British Athletics Team for the 4 years leading into the home Games. London 2012 saw TeamGB win a formidable 4 gold medals including an incredible period that saw three Gold Medals won for the home team in 45 minutes on what since then is known as 'Super Saturday'.
Charles van Commenee proved to be a top Performance Manager in his various roles in elite sports. Through his leadership he successfully managed to mould his vision into large and complex sporting organisations. After 35 years of coaching experience, Charles now works as a motivational speaker for organisations like Shell, EY, Cap Gemini and McKinsey on topics such as Coaching, Performance Management and how to build a High Performance Culture.