England Team Weakened

East’s injury dims England gold prospects
By Tom Knight
(Filed: 22/12/2005)

England lost another potential medallist when Michael East became the latest athlete to pull out of the Commonwealth Games.

East, 27, who won the 1500 metres title in Manchester in 2002, cited injury as his reason for withdrawing from the Games, which start in Melbourne on March 15.

The British No 1 has been suffering this winter because of problems with a hamstring and an Achilles tendon. He told the magazine Athletics Weekly: “I’ve been able to run for only about two or three weeks this winter and I would rather turn down the chance to defend my title than go to Melbourne only 60 per cent fit.”

East was one of England’s 12 gold medallists in Manchester - where England topped the medals table with 29 ahead of Australia’s 26 - in a competition which many saw as a major breakthrough for the Portsmouth athlete.

But his career since then has failed to ignite. After a year in which injuries took their toll, East managed to qualify for the World Championships in Helsinki, but was then eliminated in his semi-final after suffering from a stomach upset.

It was thought that the Commonwealth Games would give him the chance to make amends, although he admitted that the competition in Melbourne would be better than it was in Manchester.

“You’re going to have three very good Kenyans and a couple of New Zealanders,” said East, who will now concentrate on getting fit for the European Championships in Gothenburg in August.

The favourite to win the Commonwealth 1500m could be Craig Mottram, the 5,000m Australian bronze medal-winner in Helsinki.

East’s withdrawal could help Mottram, who hails from Melbourne, to make up his mind whether to double up over 1500m and 5000m rather than the 5,000m and 10,000m.

While the Australians, as host nation, are aiming to win 30 medals in the specially adapted 100,000-capacity Melbourne Cricket Ground, the chances of English athletes replicating their triumphs at the City of Manchester Stadium are slim.

Of the Commonwealth champions, Jonathan Edwards and Dame Kelly Holmes have retired and Ashia Hansen is still recovering from the knee injury she sustained in 2004.

Nathan Morgan, who won the long jump in Manchester, has opted to aim for the World Indoor Championships, which take place in Moscow at the beginning of March.

East is not the only recent withdrawal. Larry Achike, the Commonwealth triple jump title-winner in 1998, pulled out of the England team this week because he is still recovering from knee surgery.

The 2010 Commonwealth Games take place in New Delhi, India, but they could return to Britain in 2014.

Glasgow is bidding to host the Games for the first time in a competition that will be decided in Sri Lanka in 2007. The rival bidders are Halifax in Canada and Abuja in Nigeria. The Games were held in Scotland in 1970 and 1986, when Edinburgh was the host city.

The double periodized season has been hard for English athletes who are having to do speed work earlier and in colder climate conditions than usual.

From what I see the transitions between phases are shaper and this is leading to a fair number of calf problems…

INJURIES ASIDE I was thinking that since Dave Collins has indexed results at the European Championships (instead of Com Games) to funding for 2006/7 that would also be part of the reason a few British athletes (English and others) had opted only for the Euros and out of the CGs. It makes perfect sense from the British athletes’ point of view but is difficult to reconcile that the Brits would duck the Games they themselves created - for those that don’t know, the Commonwealth Games used to be known as the (British) Empire Games.

The date of these CG, second half of March, after World Indoors is particularly tough. With indoor competitions starting in late January Moscow and Karlsruhe (fastest track of the circuit) that’s a long competition period for Winter. I wonder if a lot of people will compete at both WI and CG.

THERE are many things which mitigate against the best possible fields at the Commonwealth Games, especially when they are staged in and to a southern hemisphere schedule.

Any southern hemisphere track meet will be staged between September and March to compromise between the needs of getting warm weather and getting votes from the northern hemisphere nations who by their numbers presumably determine which city wins the right to host an event.

The Christchurch Com Games in 74 were staged in January, Brisbane Com Games in 82 were staged in October (I think), Auckland Com Games in January-February, Sydney Olympics from September 15.

So you either tag onto the end of the European outdoors season or you link up with the northern hemisphere indoor and cross-country season. There will be problems whichever way they go.

Southern hemisphere nations should perform well at the Melbourne Coms in mid-March of 2006, but in athletics the west Indies nations are often adversely affected by US college scholarship commitments when an event is conducted in the new year period.

:rolleyes: I would be very interested in logging onto some websites which have active and current news or stats on the South African track and field scene. I’ve tried the Athletics South Africa website which is hopeless for results in the RSA. Anyone got some links please? thanks kk

This is a good point. I know a few athletes who are boarderline on funding and are going for broke this year. So if thier performance at the Euros is the key indicator like KK suggests perhaps they really are writing off the CWG? Indeed some of these athletes are training incredibly hard sacrificing long term development for short term gains… will they burn out or peak is still to be seen.

I suggest the site www.tilastopaja.com for anyresults including South Africa, the site owner is Mirko Jalava who does terrific work, statistician are all more or less dependant on his site now. His lists are more complete than IAAF ones.

PJ to the rescue as usual. :slight_smile: kk THANKS