Problems for CVC


By Capt. David Martin (former tank commander), Press Association Sport

UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee faces an anxious wait to see whether any more of his star competitors will pull out of next month’s World Championships following Kelly Sotherton’s withdrawal on Monday.

The heptathlete has shown no real form since suffering a heel injury in February and aggravated it when training last Friday. She will now not compete at the event which takes place in Berlin from August 13 to 25.

Her injury came on the same day that Olympic 400 metres champion Chrissy Ohuruogu pulled out of the London Grand Prix next weekend, prompting speculation she may also be missing in Berlin.

Ohuruogu has a hamstring injury and has never looked comfortable over her speciality distance this summer, suffering a heavy defeat at the hands of American rival Sanya Richards in Oslo at the beginning of the month.

The pair should have had a rematch in Paris last Friday night, but the hamstring was already troubling Ohuruogu and obviously deteriorated when she withdrew from London on the afternoon of that IAAF Golden League meeting.

Ohuruogu has the happy knack of peaking for the big occasion, as she showed two years ago when she won the world title less than three weeks after returning from a 12-month ban for missing three out-of-competition drug tests.

She did it again in Beijing last year, finding the finishing pace to power past Richards in the home straight to claim 400 metres gold.

The 25-year-old Londoner was at least in the best of health on both those occasions and that could be a vital factor in her choice whether to make the trip to Berlin.

Coach Lloyd Cowan has a massive influence over her and he may feel there is no sense and no point to prove in risking further injury by defending her title where she would have to undertake two tough heats before the final.

The same could be said of Martyn Rooney, an exceptional sixth in his Olympic 400m final who also suffered a much more serious hamstring injury in mid-May which wrecked his early-season race schedule.

Rooney bounced back a month ago when making his fastest ever start to the season, but within a few days was again having medical treatment after further complications incurred during a training session.

He missed the recent world trials and he plans proving his fitness to the selectors at Crystal Palace in a bid to clinch an individual and 4x400m place in the team.

The former world junior bronze medallist realistically has no chance of a podium finish in Berlin, but he could play an important part in the relay squad grabbing a medal.

Last year the GB team just missed an Olympic bronze with Rooney contributing an exceptional 43.73-second final leg, as the foursome clocked their fastest time for 10 years of two minutes, 58.81 seconds.

The current crop of 400m performers have the ability to improve upon that performance, but Rooney is a vital cog in their momentum and the vital question is, will his body have the strength to withstand the punishment?

Another one-lap specialist, Tim Benjamin, is also a question mark and is constantly hampered by injury.

The 27-year-old returned from a hamstring injury and was a disappointing seventh in Paris on Friday and clearly was distressed by his display.

Having threatened to retire after missing last year’s Olympics with chronic sinusitis he spoke of retirement. Sadly that again became a talking point after the Stade de France meeting.


Van Commenee already knows Mara Yamauchi, second in this year’s Flora London Marathon, will not be in Berlin chasing a medal because of a foot injury.

Having selected Paula Radcliffe without her showing any form this year, the Dutchman will be hoping the world marathon record holder declares herself fit after a toe injury to compete.

Radcliffe has been training at high altitude in Font Romeu for several months but there has been no indication from her coaching staff whether she will be in the line-up and attempt to regain the title she won in 2005.

Van Commenee must be frustrated by the injuries and if the worst comes to the worst - only triple jumper Phillips Idowu and Jessica Ennis look like medal candidates.

I see many young athletes improving this season, so this has to be some comfort…