UKA looks to Jamaica

.British prepare to go to Jamaica and Bolt’s guru to build success·
.Collins forced out as focus shifts to coaching
.Glen Mills to oversee next generation of sprinters

Michael Phillips The Guardian, Tuesday September 2 2008

UK Athletics is ready to call on Usain Bolt’s coach, Glen Mills, to help spark a revolution in the sport that will carry it to the Olympic in London in 2012 and beyond. Mills has made Bolt into the greatest sprinter in history, with the Jamaican winning an unprecedented three sprinting gold medals while setting three world records at last month’s Games in Beijing.

Officials at UKA have spoken to Mills about sending sprinters and coaches from Britain to Kingston to have their skills developed by the most sought-after guru in track and field. The idea is part of a major structural change at the top of the organisation that yesterday not only saw Dave Collins officially relieved of his position as national performance director but also saw his job title ditched.

In the next fortnight, possibly after the Paralympics which will bring an end to the four-year Olympiad cycle under which Collins was contracted, UK Athletics hopes to announce the Dutchman Charles van Commenee as his successor but in the role of head coach rather than performance director.

Niels de Vos, UKA’s chief executive, yesterday revealed that Collins’ contract, which was due to expire in six months’ time, would not have been renewed even if British athletics had celebrated a glut of medals in Beijing.

They had a target of five, but left China with just four and only one gold, from Christine Ohuruogu in the 400m.

“It’s not a sacking,” said De Vos. "It’s a guy who is coming to the end of his contract, who I have had conversations with over a long time about what needs to be done going forward and we have agreed it’s not him. Nor is it a reaction to Beijing. Genuinely, if we had won none or 20 medals, the changes I want to make would have happened anyway.

"The rationale behind it is that ‘performance director’ is just too broad and wide a job in a sport as complex as athletics. We are gearing up very much towards ‘coaching’ and ‘director of coaching’. There will be somebody stepping into the role of head coach."

UKA wants to ensure that any foundation set for the Olympics in 2012, where British athletics will be under its greatest pressure to succeed, is taken on to the Games in 2016 and beyond by both athletes and coaches. That is where the likes of Mills come into the picture.

In Beijing, Bolt won almost as many medals as the whole British track and field team managed between them, having been coached by Mills, a fellow Jamaican, since the end of 2004. One of the reasons behind Jamaica’s growing success has been an investment in their coaching system, an area that has been given priority at places such as the GC Foster College of Physical Education and Sport in St Catherine.

Mills has helped transform Bolt into a phenomenon who ran 9.69sec to break the 100m world record as he won Olympic gold in Beijing before his equally amazing 19.30 to break Michael Johnson’s 12-year-old 200m world record. Bolt finished his Games by helping Jamaica to gold in the 4x100m relay, in another world-record time.

Yesterday De Vos refused to confirm or deny that Van Commenee is their main target but sources close to the hierarchy in the sport have stressed that not only is he the top choice, but that a deal has been struck with him. The Dutchman was UK Athletics’ multi-events director but was strangely discounted from the job as performance director when Collins was appointed by the UKA’s old regime in 2004.

Van Commenee, who now works for the Netherlands Olympic Committee, is an athletics coach with a high-class reputation. In Sydney in 2000 he guided Britain’s Denise Lewis to Olympic heptathlon gold. Four years later he coached Kelly Sotherton to Olympic bronze. Collins, by contrast, was a sports psychologist at Edinburgh University when he was appointed.

De Vos said: “Dave did very good job at putting systems in place but at the end of the day systems don’t win medals. It’s not about me saying Dave was 100% wrong - 75% of what he did was right. But I knew where I wanted to go. It has been an ongoing process since about January. I said at the time that the performance director role was too big.”

Going nowhere fast
Since Linford Christie’s gold in Barcelona in 1992, Britain’s performances in the men’s 100m at the Olympics paint a picture of sprinting decline:

Beijing 2008

One semi-finalist
Tyrone Edgar

Athens 2004

Two semi-finalists
Jason Gardner and Mark Lewis-Francis

Sydney 2000

Two finalists
Dwain Chambers, 4th, and Darren Campbell, 6th

Atlanta 1996

One finalist
Linford Christie, DQ

Haha jeez. Again this amuses me. Now Mills is the “most sought after guru in track and field”? 2 months ago everyone was like “hey tell me who Bolt’s coach is again”?

How quickly we all forget about MVP people. Soon my friends, soon. Lausanne.

Typical UKA, going back to having a Director of Coaching - just as they had when it was BAF and before that BAAB… when they were more succesful and spent less money.

Clap clap…thank you. I find this whole circus with UKA a joke. How much money will now be spent taking Business Class trips to JA? What ever country is flavour of the year they jump straight onto. Haven’t they thought about the fact that weather is a massive part of performance…!? Are they going to buy a sun pumping out 35o weather all year round for Great Britain too!!!

His system will transform UK to a powerhouse in three years.

I feel the fundamental problem within in the UK is that the level of coaching is far from adequate even a lot of the supposed top coaches teach a lot of rubbish. It would be more helpful to have the top coaches come over on a regular basis for conferences and seminars about their work and encouraging coaches and athletes to attend and take note, this idea seems just like a quick fix to appease the masses.

yea that is amazing. They forgot that mvp had a 1,3 finish in the womens final.

I am still waiting for UKA to invite Charlie Francis to come and do a stint of coaching work in the UK.

20 years on i am still wondering who the hell did he upset ?

If you recall they sent their best junior athlete to america to train with Trevor Graham and Justin Gatlin

Did someone with in that organisation know where Dwain Chambers was before he was caught for his so called wrong doings?

So why cant they learn some thing from one of the greatest sprint coaches the world has ever seen ?

Or i am cynical to think that Britain has no resources in comparisom to Jamacia

Glen Mills has been Head Coach specialising of course in Sprints for Jamaica since Seoul 1988 Olympcs. He isn’t doing anything different now to what he was doing then. BUt he’s got a special guy in Usain Bolt.

Anyways, Mills and Stephen Francis apparently do some work at the same venue (UT, Kingston) so anyone who went over there on a study tour might be lucky enough to see both groups in action.

How do you know Glen Mills hasn’t changed the training? I’m pretty sure he has- at least this year. The comments from Usain stating that he hadn’t done any 200m prep until after he boke the 100m WR indicate a S-to-L approach for 2008. Was this done before?

Don’t hold your breath!

In 1996 was Linford Christie not disqualified in the semi-final rather than the final?

No I’m pretty sure that was the final. That’s a main reason why everyone talks about Dan Pfaff’s ‘preparation for all situtations’ with his athletes.

Yeah it was definitely the final. He drew lan e 2 between Marsh and Boldon if my memory serves me right. Linford and Ato had a confrontation afterwards as Ato claimed Linford disrupted his focus.

OK Yes, you are correct. He has gone S2L. What I meant was his ideas on training for 200m and 400m and also 100m apparently haven’t changed. What has changed is that he has prepared Bolt to as a 100m and 200m runner, not a 200m guy with the idea that he would eventually move Bolt out to 400m. He’s on the record as having said he wanted Bolt to go to the 400m. But when Bolt broke Quarrie’s Jamaican 200m record last year, apparently Mills agreed that he would prepare Bolt to run at least one 100m. And that opening 100m was a stunner, with more to come so I think it was really the athlete who determined to the direction/strategy of the program for Mr Mills this season, despite Bolt publicly deferring to Mills as the boss. That little doff of the cap would also have served neatly to defray some of the pressure from Bolt over to coach Mills.

I’m saying I’m not sure how much advance planning really went into any of this season. It’s more like they decided to run a fast 100m early and then decide what to do. And they certainly made the right decision - the only logical, sensinble one - to evolve Short to Long, rather than risk damaging the speed Bolt had developed.

That decision may also have been influenced over the last few years by observing the speed development of Asafa Powell at the MVP squad, for whatever his failings in the majots, coach Stephen Francis’s “concurrent” style program build around a S2L development of the speed/power thread has been working: As PJ pointed out for eight years in a row Asafa has run a PB in the 100m.