UK athletes to train O/S

Page last updated at 19:09 GMT, Saturday, 6 March 2010

2012 athletes to prepare overseas camp for Olympics

UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee is adamant that Britain’s athletes will prepare at an overseas training camp ahead of the Olympics.

London 2012 chairman Lord Sebastian Coe believes GB’s athletes might benefit from training in a familiar environment in the run-up to the 2012 Games.

But Van Commenee, 51, insisted: "That’s his view, I don’t agree with that.

“My Australian colleague who was in charge at Sydney 2000 had some advice for me - ‘Don’t prepare at home’.”

For the 2008 Beijing Olympics the British Olympic Association set up a holding camp in Macau in the Far East.

Four years earlier athletes prepared for the Greece Olympics in Cyprus, while in 2000 a pre-Olympic camp was held on Australia’s Gold Coast.

For major events, such as the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, GB athletes have traditionally prepared at a holding camp in Monte Gordo in Portugal.

Van Commenee thinks Britain’s athletes will benefit from preparing away from the anticipated intense media scrutiny as well as taking advantage of the Mediterranean’s warm weather.

“I am not running away from the pressure,” added Van Commenee.

“You have to embrace the pressure but you also want to be in a quiet environment where you have a guarantee of good weather and don’t have your cousin chasing you for tickets.”

British Swimming is also planning to set up an overseas base.

The BOA has looked at establishing a pre-2012 camp at Aldershot’s army barracks.

“We have looked at a number of sites and we will work with all sports to come up with the best solution for them,” a BOA spokesman told BBC Sport.

“Details of our preparation camps are still to be formally announced.”

The track and field teams of both the United States and Jamaica have signed deals with Birmingham City Council to prepare for 2012 in training camps in the Midlands city.

Van Commenee was named as national head coach of UK Athletics in September 2008, when he took over from Dave Collins.

The Dutchman guided Denise Lewis to the 2000 Olympic heptathlon gold medal and Kelly Sotherton to bronze in 2004.

As technical director of the Dutch Olympic Committee, the 50-year-old led his country to its second best Games medal haul at the 2008 event in China.

With a reputation for hard work and honesty, Van Commenee has been charged with reviving the fortunes of Britain’s athletes ahead of the London Olympics after a poor showing in Beijing, when Team GB won four medals, falling short of its target of five.