“Having such a big group again is wonderful, but we never set specific targets,” says Craig Considine, Millfield’s headmaster since 2008. “For us it isn’t about statistics or winning trophies – we look at each child as an individual, aiming to hit goals we’ve worked with them to achieve and prepare them for professional life. That could be anything, from a place at a university to a professional contract or the Great Britain squad.”
At its 240-acre campus two miles from Glastonbury, however, the £33,000-a-year Millfield boasts just about all a young athlete could need to reach their potential. As well as swathes of playing fields and green space, there are state-of-the-art indoor facilities, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, 25 full-time coaches (two of whom will also head to Rio with Team GB) and a bevy of support staff most professional sports establishments would be proud of – including a psychologist, a video performance analyst and numerous physiotherapists.
It is this litany of near-professional resources that many point to as the root of a growing problem with Team GB: the number of privately-educated athletes has risen from 20 per cent in 2012 to 28 per cent this year. After the squad was announced last week, five-time Olympic medal-winner, Sir Steve Redgrave (state-educated at Great Marlow School in Buckinghamshire) bemoaned, “the opportunity of playing different sports and the coaching abilities at private schools are, unfortunately, much greater than at the state schools.”