UKA to dump Collins

UK Athletics looking to replace Dave Collins after dismal performance

Four years after letting him slip through their fingers, UK Athletics will try to persuade Charles van Commenee to take over from Dave Collins as their performance director.

By Tom Knight in Beijing
Last Updated: 8:56AM BST 25 Aug 2008

It follows the sport’s poor performance at these Olympics, where only Christine Ohuruogu won gold and the team managed just four medals when the modest target was five.

There were bright moments, including Germaine Mason’s silver medal in the high jump, the emergence of Martyn Rooney, as well as Jeanette Kwayke’s appearance in the 100 metres final.

Collins’ contract expires in March but he is expected to leave earlier after the team’s worst performance since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where no golds were won.

Van Commenee, the Dutchman who took Denise Lewis to the heptathlon gold in Sydney and moulded Kelly Sotherton into a bronze medallist in Athens, will be offered the chance to make the British team a power at the London Olympics in 2012.

Collins, former Professor of Physical Education and Sport Performance at Edinburgh University, was the surprise choice to take over the role in 2005 when his appointment followed a worldwide search for the best person available.

UK Athletics, under the leadership of Dave Moorcroft, had already discarded six short-listed candidates and allowed Van Commenee to leave his job as the sport’s head of multi-events to become the head of performance with the Dutch national Olympic committee. He has proved a major success in the role, with Holland finishing 12th in the medals table.

One of the country’s seven gold medals was in women’s water polo, an event targeted by Van Commenee and given enough funding so that the players could become full-time athletes to prepare for these Games.

However, he could take a lot of coaxing to return to Britain to do the job he wanted in 2004, when he would have had eight years to groom the most promising athletes to win medals in London.

Collins has spoken of his disappointment that too many medal chances were lost in the Bird’s Nest Stadium. He pointed to the 13 fourth to eighth places and three British records set, but accepted that too many medal hopes failed to convert potential into a podium place.

He said: “I am satisfied that we are making progress but disappointed and frustrated about the medals that got away.”

The biggest culprits were Kelly Sotherton, Lisa Dobriskey, Andy Baddeley and Greg Rutherford. Nicola Sanders was not fit enough to compete at the level she reached at last year’s World Championships and for all Paula Radcliffe’s past glories, her marathon run was doomed to fail.

The lowest point was the botched baton handovers in the men’s and women’s sprint relays, despite intensive training and over £500,000 of dedicated lottery funding.

UK Sport, the lottery distributors, have already declared that athletics will have to raise its game or face a cut in its funding since 2004 of £26.5 million.:eek:

The problem for Collins is that while cycling, rowing, sailing and swimming have delivered gold medals, athletics is still talking of “the need for change” and “progress”. HE’LL BE SAYING BRITAINARE “REBUILDING” kk:rolleyes:

While medals are harder to win in athletics than in any other sport because of the 202 nations taking part, the new era of high performance sport means that UK Sport and the British Olympic Association (BOA) will be looking for guarantees.

Collins added: “Four medals will clearly not be enough in London but I think I should be judged on more than a medal count. I can’t categorically promise that we will do better in London 2012.People weren’t exactly queuing up for the job when I took it on and I’ve given it my best shot. There was a lot wrong when I arrived and I think there is a lot more right today.”

Lord Moynihan, the chairman of the BOA, said athletics faced “a big challenge over the next four years to lift itself among some of the formula one sports like sailing, cycling and rowing.

“I think athletics will always be seen as the premier Olympic sport because of the number of medals that are available. So we have to get up there and compete. I did think the target of five medals was modest but realistic and they will feel they have under-performed against that target. They will see it is a long and challenging road ahead.


“It’s a big ask for athletics, but athletics needs to respond to that and I believe they will.”

Convincing van Commenee that this country needs him could be the first step.

Dave Collins loses his job at UK Athletics
The build-up to London 2012 has begun in earnest, with confirmation that Dave Collins’ tenure as UK Athletics performance director has ended.

By Tom Knight
Last Updated: 1:22AM BST 01 Sep 2008

End of the road: Dave Collins’ fate was sealed after Team GB’s under-performance in the Bird’s Nest in the Beijing Olympics Photo: Getty Images
As revealed in The Daily Telegraph before the Beijing Olympics had ended, Collins’ contract, which was due to expire in March, has been terminated with immediate effect.

Collins’ departure reopens the door that was closed four years ago to Charles van Commenee, the 50-year-old Dutchman with the reputation for getting results, to come in and bring much-needed success to a sport that failed to meet its modest target of just five medals at the Olympics.

Van Commenee worked in this country with heptathletes Denise Lewis and Kelly Sotherton, and was the popular choice to be the performance director after the Athens Games in 2004.

But when he was not offered the job, Van Commenee moved back to Holland to become the technical director for the Netherlands Olympic Committee. He led Holland to 16 medals, including seven golds in Beijing, in what was the country’s second most successful Olympics.

It was typical of the plain-speaking Van Commenee, however, that he claimed last week that the Dutch team should have done better than their 12th place in the medals table.

Sotherton is among those British athletes who will welcome Van Commenee back to Britain, even though he reduced her to tears at Athens. After transforming Sotherton into a world-class athlete, Van Commenee lambasted her for running “like a weasel” in the 800 metres, the final event of the heptathlon, when he believed she could have won the silver medal instead of her bronze.

Speaking after finishing sixth in the 100m hurdles at the Aviva British Grand Prix meeting in Gateshead, Sotherton said: "Charles is a great coach. He’s worked with world and Olympic champions and he knows how to get results.

"He is very tough and not short of words. There’s only a few of us still around who know what he is like and I think some people will get a very rude awakening.

“He works hard, and nothing is left to chance. If things happen, it is because he has made them happen.”

Van Commenee’s commitment to Holland means that his appointment will not be confirmed until after the Paralympics, and he will probably take the helm as head coach, rather than performance director.

The job title will be significant, since UK Athletics plan a raft of changes in an attempt to redirect lottery funding and focus resources into those athletes deemed capable of making an impact at London 2012.

Niels de Vos, the chief executive of UK Athletics, is used to making tough decisions after previously transforming the fortunes of rugby union club Sale Sharks.

He made almost half the UK Athletics staff redundant soon after taking control, and has been planning these changes for more than six months. He said coaches would be brought to Britain from around the world, and athletes’ training and performances would be more closely monitored than ever before.

De Vos claimed that athletics would overtake cycling, rowing, swimming and sailing as the most successful sport in London.

He added: “I’m confident that athletics will be the sport that will win the most medals in London, although they may not all be gold.”

According to former GB middle-distance runner Steve Ovett, before that can happen Britain’s athletes will need Van Commenee’s help. He said: “They need a reality check as to what you need to do to survive and what you need to do to win.”

I find this whole thing comical.

wait for toys to be thrown!

I only ever see track athletes in the gym these days but I have to say, on the whole, I am thoroughly unimpressed by their work ethic, the training programs they follow and the huge huge volumes of faff.

Without naming names, are those lacking work ethic, lottery sponsored runners close to the top of Uk athletics ?

What is wrong with their programmes - no structure, wrong volumes, wrong intensity …