Ex-GB chief gloomy on Euro hopes

Great Britain will do well to win seven or eight medals at next week’s European Championships, says former UK Athletics performance director Max Jones.
The British squad has won between 13 and 16 medals in each of the last five European Championships.

Current performance chief Dave Collins said when announcing the team that his “stretch target” was 10 medals.

But Jones warned: “Ten medals is the stretch target. Now I think seven or eight is a good figure to go for.”

Jones, who retired from the job 17 months ago, originally shared Collins’ view that a double-figure haul was possible but reviewed his forecast in view of recent injury concerns.

Christian Malcolm, a potential 200m medallist, was forced to pull out through injury, while Dwain Chambers will compete in the 100m despite a recent thigh injury …

The absence of defending 10,000m champion Paula Radcliffe, pregnant awaiting the birth of her first child, also deprives GB of another likely medal.

“European standards, not just ours, are getting gradually worse, so that isn’t a factor,” Jones said.

"We are lacking the talent to replace Steve Backley, Jonathan Edwards, Colin Jackson and some other world stars who have now retired.

"There has been a downward spiral. We are not replacing them with the same kind of material today.

"We should have been producing them seven or eight years ago at junior level, but it hasn’t happened.

"The success of the 90s was built in the mid-80s at junior level. Sadly, athletes are no longer falling off the conveyor belt like then.

“Now for the first time I can remember, we go to Gothenburg with not a single genuine gold medal prospect.”

Jones qualified that by saying: “Tim Benjamin might win the 400m - if he is fit he stands a chance”.

“Of course I could say there are a dozen medal shots, but the system used to calculate them takes into account different factors,” he added.

"Every championships sees athletes suffer from plain bad luck, loss of form or even when progressing through preliminary rounds, injury.

“We’re in a period of transition, and it is vital we start producing medallists at the forthcoming World Junior Championships in our build-up to the 2012 London Olympics.”

1986: 8G 2S 5B Total 15
1990: 9G 5S 2B Total 16
1994: 6G 5S 2B Total 13
1998: 9G 4S 3B Total 16
2002: 7G 1S 6B Total 14