Coe to aid distance running group


Sebastian Coe will be part of an advisory group formed in a bid to revive British distance running.

Also involved in the group are Steve Cram, Paula Radcliffe, Dave Bedford, Brendan Foster and Liz McColgan.

They will support the work of Ian Stewart, who has been appointed to lead UK Athletics’ endurance running strategy ahead of London 2012.

The 59-year-old Stewart is an Olympic 5000 metres bronze medallist and former world cross country champion.

His role will see him, in conjunction with UKA head coach Charles Van Commenee, oversee the programmes of those key athletes who have been identified as potential medallists or finalists at the London Games in 2012.

British middle and long distance running has struggled in recent times after the success of Coe, Cram and Steve Ovett in the 1980s.

The numbers involved are dropping and in Beijing only 1500m runners Lisa Dobriskey and Andy Baddeley qualified through heats for their finals while Jo Pavey and Kate Reed were in the 10,000m final, which was run without heats.

Lord Coe said: "What is important is that this group unites behind Charles, Ian and the wider endurance community in a positive and ambitious manner to do all we can to turn round our middle and long-distance fortunes between now and 2012.

“When Charles asked me to chair to the group, I didn’t hesitate. We have a great endurance heritage in this country and with that comes expertise, new ideas and a common desire to see our distance athletes achieve success.”

Stewart said: “The situation as it stands is far from perfect, but I think there are things we can do that will certainly improve our standing between now and 2012.”

Van Commenee added: "Ian brings a breadth and depth of experience, knowledge and expertise of elite athletics than few can match.

“I am also excited that the group of seven of Britain’s endurance running luminaries have made themselves available to support the future of the discipline as part of the advisory group.”

Is there enough time between now and 2012?