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GB's Barcelona haul - the final verdict

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Tom Fordyce | 23:31 UK time, Sunday, 1 August 2010

Six days, six golds, 19 record-breaking medals.

If the British team went into the European Championships with a mixed forecast, it left on cloud nine and with rather heavier hand luggage.

Four years ago Britain returned from the Europeans in Gothenburg without a single individual gold medal, the talk dominated by doping bans off the track and struggles on it.

Compared to that, the haul from Barcelona seems to sparkle like the Font Magica. But behind those simple numbers, just how good a performance was this?

Medals first of all. The UK Sport target going into the week was for 10-15 in total - which always felt rather vague - with UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee aiming for 14. Both those have been knocked into a cocked sombrero. Had so many big names (Ohuruogu, Rutherford, Yamauchi, Sotherton, Mason) not been back in Blighty injured, the tally might have been greater still.

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The best bits from Barcelona 2010


As it was, it was the nation's best total in the 72 years the Europeans have been running. Whether this automatically makes it Britain's greatest display is less clear-cut. In Split in 1990 half the 18 medals won were gold.

Then again, the haul this year was achieved with a much smaller team. In 1990 Britain filled 91 of the 124 spots available in various events, compared to only 61 of 130 possible places this time around.

Let's dig deeper. There were nine personal bests this week from British athletes. Should we be impressed with that?

On one hand, there were 72 British athletes in Barcelona. Two of those marks came from a single athlete, Jess Ennis (javelin, overall points score). PBs from just a tenth of the team might not seem such a big deal.

On the other, those PBs won medals. For the second year in succession Phillips Idowu produced one when it mattered most to win gold; Ennis saved her heptathlon when under severe pressure with that javelin mark.

They were also big chunks that were taken off - almost half a second for Perri Shakes-Drayton, eight for steeplechaser Hattie Dean. Dai Greene's put him joint-second in the UK all-time rankings.

Then there's the logic. PBs are more likely to come from younger competitors as they develop, yet many of Britain's medals were from mature athletes (Christian Malcolm, Mark Lewis-Francis, Chris Tomlinson). Several youngsters who could have made the team were not in Barcelona, either because they went to the World Juniors a fortnight ago instead (Jodie Williams) or were not picked despite having the European qualifying standard (sprint hurdler Lawrence Clarke, discus thrower Brett Morse).

What of the standards the medal-winners achieved?

"There have been some great races, but the quality of the performances has been variable in world terms," says Steve Cram, double European champion over 1500m.

"Even within the individual events the standards varied - the semi-finals of the men's 400m were very good, and not so much in the final; the women's 400m was the other way round."

Both Phillips Idowu and Ennis beat pretty much the best athletes in their event globally to take gold. Dai Greene, Andy Turner and Mo Farah faced less competitive fields. Does that cheapen the British achievements in any way?

"For a lot of athletes this will be the peak of their careers, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that," says Cram. "It is extremely tough to win world and Olympic titles, and being able to say you're the best in Europe is a big achievement. All you can do at a championships is to beat what's there.

"The lesser medals should be read in different ways for different athletes: bronze for Shakes-Drayton signalled the real start of her career and possible ascent to the very top; Christian Malcolm's silver was great for him, but he's not dreaming of winning a gold at the Olympics.

"Almost a third of the British athletes have won medals, which is extremely impressive, and at the other end of the scale not many have underperformed - you have to think hard to come up with examples of outright failures.

"We have some very good athletes, a few of whom will move on to challenge at world and Olympic level. But we don't suddenly have 20 world-beaters."

The success was not equally spread throughout the team. The British men did rather better than their female compatriots, winning more medals than any other nation, even if French men won more golds.

But in the stories of some were fine examples of the success hard work and dedication can bring. Athletes who had been written off came back to triumph, not for the cash or kudos but because medals mattered to them.

Turner had been taken off Lottery funding and struggled all summer long with Achilles problems. Despite that he refused to give up or go away. "I love the sport," he said after storming to sprint hurdles gold, and that came through too in the late flowering of Christian Malcolm, Mark Lewis-Francis and Chris Thompson.

Farah was perhaps the best case-study in sacrifice. Five years ago he took the decision to commit everything to his running, living a sparse monastic lifestyle, moving house, moving away from his family for long periods. Neither was the pay-off instant, but he stuck at it. His distance double was fitting reward.

In the reaction of other podium finishers was more reason for optimism. Four years ago GB bronze medals were celebrated wildly. Here, even silvers were barely considered good enough. Rhys Williams refused to do a lap of honour after winning his behind Greene in the 400m hurdles, while Michael Rimmer looked like he had been handed a prison sentence rather than a prize in his 800m medal ceremony.

Van Commenee sees a mixed picture. "Quite a few athletes stepped up a level, but also there is a lot of work to be done," he told BBC Sport on Sunday night.

"We have too many athletes at home with injuries, and we don't have enough athletes in the field events, especially on the women's side. It's about taking accountability for success but also failure."

In the two years since Van Commenee took over as head coach, Britain has exceeded expectations at both a World Championships and Europeans. How much credit should Van Commenee take for the successes?

"It's a hard question to answer," says Cram. "There are lots of different people having an influence and who have been doing that for a long time, and who don't get mentioned when these discussions start.

"People don't talk about Aston Moore, and what's he's done for Phillips Idowu as his coach, or the importance to Mo Farah of Ian Stewart, Ricky Simms or Alan Storey. For Mo the best thing Charles has done is just let him get on with it.

"The overall ethos he's instilled of setting the bar high - within the team, within the support staff - is one I support. And if that's his biggest achievement, that's a good thing."

Even as the finale fireworks were exploding above the Estadio Olympico on Sunday, thoughts were turning to the London and the 2012 Olympics. Should the nation be optimistic that the reign in Spain bodes well for track and field success in the capital?

"I think we're in really good shape with two years to go," said Lord Coe, chairman of the 2012 organising committee.

"What Charles needed to do was challenge the culture of British athletics, take people out of their comfort zone. This is a team on the move. They're looking like they want to be in the stadium. There is still a long way to go, but there is light at the end of the tunnel."

As a whole, these European Championships were like paella - tasty in places, stodgy in others.

New stars were born, led by French sprint sensation Christophe Lemaitre, but they were not always watched by big crowds. While the organisers trumpeted a post-event profit of 42 million Euros, the bums on seats count was less impressive. The venue was splendid, reeking of sporting history; the mascot Barni a half-baked shambles.

The best moments, from a selfish point of view? Mo's sprint to victory in the 5,000m, and Ennis's reaction when Dobrynska tried to go past her in the 800m. The best quote? "That was the greatest half an hour of my life," courtesy of Chris Thompson and his 10,000m silver.

What will make it all stick in the memory are two things: the many thrilling finishes to constant ding-dong contests, and the almost permanent sight of a Union flag on a lap of honour.

The pulse raced almost as often as the athletes. And that is what sport is all about.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Absolutely fantasic championships. Great venue and hosts. Great atmosphere. Amazing performances both on individual and team basis. They have put the 'Great' back into Great Britain! Stepping stone to the worlds and olympics with many good potential medalists injured back home and good crop of youngsters coming through. Thrilled to have been there and shared the pulsating week and so so proud of them all. Perhaps english footballers should have come to watch and should try living on an athletes wage for a yr and see how they like it. Pretty good feeling they would never produce such high results and it might bring them down a peg or too!
    Thanks for the effort, enthusiasm and memories Team GB. See you all at Crystal Palace!

  • Comment number 2.

    Loved the comment about the mascot... looked like an cuddly toy version of a Cyberman. And they can only have made that money from TV rights as the stadium was never anywhere near full which was sad.

    As a championships they were great but you often it felt like it was like watching a ding dong battle between two lower league football teams - great spirit but not much quality. Only a few events were World Class.

    The British team were hugely impressive but you have to wonder what some of the athletes have been doing all their careers if they're only achieving success at such a late stage.

    And if Perri Shakes-Drayton continues to deliver she's going to be MASSIVE!

  • Comment number 3.

    If "The British men did rather better than their female compatriots...", then this is probably because there weren't many medals left after the Russian women had finished filling their boots with them.

    After a quick look at the medal table, I count the Russian men taking 6 medals from 72, but the Russian women taking 18 from 69.

    What's the reason for this? At first I wondered (unfairly, perhaps?) if use of androgenic steroids might explain it. But then I thought of some successful Russian tennis players and thought there was no (clearly visible) evidence there....

  • Comment number 4.

    Can we please bottle a little of Perri Shakes-Drayton's personality and sprinkle it on sports people everywhere? And didn't Perri run well in that relay? Wicked, Perri, wicked! Well deserved bronzes, Perri, which you will better time and again in future.

    The greatest thing for me about Barcelona was so many British athletes enjoying themselves, even Christian Malcolm who deserved gold for his great run, and Lisa Dobrinsky who appeared to be bulldozed out of the way in the 1500m but still managed to get very close to a bronze. Great post race attitude by both these athletes.

    Oh, and Andy Turner. What a great attitude in the face of adversity to run away with the gold.

  • Comment number 5.

    Perri Shakes-Drayton is going to be massive.Huge talent and personality to go with it.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    I remember drawing 'Barni' many years ago, when I was a tiny child.
    Who do I go to to claim my money ?

  • Comment number 8.

    Well done to the team. Stop critising them Coach and give a bit of praise. Our athletes come from small off-shore island(s) and can't be expected to do as well as huge countries such as Russia or France.

  • Comment number 9.

    Great entertainment... but... looking at the performances on a world scale and things not so great. Perhaps2 or maybe 3 world class performances that would win on the world stage. Idowu and Ennis beat the best to win, but everyone else would struggle to get to finals at the moment. Perhaps that's harsh, but as the article states, you beat what's in front of you and the gold medal winners have done that well! (Plus speacial mention to Perri Shakes-Drayton, star of the week and someone who will be getting a lot of attention in the run up to 2012!)

  • Comment number 10.

    When is a European Championships not a European Championships? It appears to be this one. GB had an American winning medals, virtually every Turkish athlete seemed to be from Ethiopia or Kenya or similar. It appears to be that the mantra for athletics bodies is "if we can't produce our own, we'll buy them in".
    Regardless of this I did enjoy these championships, and it looks like the future of British athletics is in safe hands.

  • Comment number 11.

    Absolutely fantastic and riveting viewing. We were glued to the telly throughout and cheering on Team GB in every event. Mo Farah's 5000m triumph was the ultimate! To watch him dig so deep - he is a true athlete and competitor, as is Jessica Ennis of course. One thing...did I hear John Olverdale (Ilverdale, sorry, cannot remember his surname) say on Saturday evening "the world is her LOBSTER"?????

  • Comment number 12.

    Whether the team is smaller or not is irrelevant. We diodn't enter athletes in events where they would have had little chance of reaching the final, let alone getting a medal, so it would not have changed the final result. Maybe there is a case for selecting a youngster who would gain experience, even from a first-round exit, but not an experienced athlete.

    Maybe we could have won more golds (the 4x100 men would have been a strong candidate) but, overall, the team did well considering the experience that was not available.

    Anyway, I am quite sure that the Germans and the French (respectively below us and just above us) in the medal table, are not bemoaning the miserably low standards of the championships, even if Lemaitre would have been about 0.5 seconds behind Usain Bolt in a straight match-up!

    Not enough consideration is given to the conditions. Barcelona in late July/early August is hell on Earth with high temperatures and higher humidity. It is definitely not where you would go to set any kind of world-class time in any endurance event (and that means 800m up). One of the reasons for the poor crowds is that even sitting in the open air in the stadium required endurance and that is without having to make any effort at all! Even in the evenings, after sunset, the temperature only drops slowly: I'm seeing 30 degrees plus until midnight and later. Would some of the critics on here like to point out the last time that they saw a drinks station on the track in a major championships????

    So, comparing the times with evening meets in Oslo, or Brussels and saying that they are deficient ignores one of the biggest factors involved. Even the Spanish commentators on the marathon from the host broadcaster were saying that it was totally unreasonable to expect any kind of world-class performance.

  • Comment number 13.

    Thank Tom, everyone's agreed that Barca has been better than Gothenburg and there's rightly a feel good factor around the GB team currently.
    However you can always debate how much the European medals are worth; you've identified Ennis & Idowu (has he come on leaps & bounds?) beating world class fields, whereas Farah & Turner will struggle to replicate success at global levels (even if it does bring more confidence). The failings:- the 1500m boys being out-manouevred, Dobriskey being boxed and baulked on the final bend, the sprint relay changeovers; thankfully few, but all too familiar (CvC will be sure to let them know what's expected).
    So if we look at these Champs as a stepping stone, as you note, those who not only fulfilled their promise, but moved on at world level were Greene, Shakes-Drayton, Dean and arguably Thomson. Great stuff.

  • Comment number 14.

    I thought the TV coverage of the whole event was magnificent,lots of serious comment and humour, from competitors and commentators alike.
    One of the highlights for me was when all the heptathletes celebrated together after their event finished, what camaraderie.

  • Comment number 15.

    Agree with comment # 9, only Ennis and Idowu look like candidates for gold in 2012 and our most impressive performer, Mo Farah, would not even be in with a chance of a medal.

    Somewhere among those other performers, or in the athletes not deemed ready for these European championships, we have to find the nuggets of 2012... a tall order I think. Maybe Shakes-Drayton and Greene. Jodie Williams perhaps.


  • Comment number 16.

    #15, just out of curiosity, what is the reasoning for saying that Mo Farah would "not even be in with a chance of a medal"? You have some inside knowledge here?

  • Comment number 17.

    I really enjoyed watching the European championships. The team looked and sounded like a team and the athletes came across wonderfully in the studio interviews that filled the intervals between events on the last couple of days. For once you heard from really committed people who earn comparatively little from their sport while sometimes having to deal with failing to match their objectives and still being nice, real people. There was a great quote from Jenny Meadows who, like Perri Shakes-Drayton, had a great bubbly personality, that the team had a noticeboard at the hotel and if you got a medal your name went up on a list and everyone wanted to get their name on the list. You can't imagine that motivating our football team. As a parent myself who loves watching his kids ding their sport, I also really enjoyed seeing the parents in the crowd shouting their children on just as they did, no doubt, when the child was ten and running in district sports day. A great antidote to cynical cheating and over paid, over hyped sports.

  • Comment number 18.

    I found this a largely good summary except for the point about it being more of an achievement because the team was smaller - that was their choice and it was smaller but more elite so that arguement doesn't really hold.

    However I whole whole whole-heartedly agree with the point that the fact a medal here may mean coming 10th or worse at World level barely matters. The whole point of having continental championships is they are not as good overall as a world one. But its still huge and it doesn't stop it being a massive massive achievement to win!! Of course the most afirweather althetics fans (nothing wrong in that also) will oly care about the Olympics but thats for them. Win the Euros and you are the best out of 800 million people rather than 6 billion - not exactly bad!

    As for Russia's women doing better than their men; you know there is a higher female to male ratio in Russia than any other nation thajnks largely to a huge alcohol problem with adult males? Wonder if the authorities target women's events more as well.

    As for the comment that we can't be compared to France; France is our ideal point of comparison; virtually identical population and wealth per capita. Italy also.

  • Comment number 19.

    Well, if you want to put bums on seats for morning qualifying sessions mid-week, you probably need to target families with children who are on holiday.

    If I were hosting the Euros or Worlds in England (and we damn well should be doing both within the next 10, if not 15 years), I'd be selling the 1st three mornings at £10 for an adult and free for accompanied children under 16. I'd offer a block discount to schools if they organised a day out for children on holiday and I'd offer seats for £5 for those who had bought a pm session at more commercial prices.

    And I'd get a load of big names of the sport to be on hand near the stadium for the kids to approach to whet their appetites.........

  • Comment number 20.

    I think people worry too much about the future and where the European Championships sits in terms of world standards. This has always been, along with the commonwealths my favourite championship. This is mainly because it's a competition in which we have a constant interest due to the number of athletes pushing for medals.

    We may look in awe as Bolt stops the clock at improbably early times but it's arguably more exciting to see 4 ro 5 guys straining at the neck to pinch a race in 10.00. Why try and diminish these achievements by comparing with world times, just enjoy the games, they are not a means to an end but an end in themselves.

  • Comment number 21.

    Great championships, but perhaps a bit too much "waffling" from the BBC Team. Do we really need so much talking and analysis? Exception was the helpful comments by Michael Johnson. He gets to the heart of the matter every time. Some marvellous performances from the athletes but a couple of low points were the refusal of Rhys Williams to accompany his team mate around the track, and the rather "spoilt child" comments by Mark Lewis-Francis. Overall, a lift for British athletics, but of course, we must get it into context as regards facing the rest of the world next year.

  • Comment number 22.

    16. At 09:46am on 02 Aug 2010, Stargazer wrote:
    #15, just out of curiosity, what is the reasoning for saying that Mo Farah would "not even be in with a chance of a medal"? You have some inside knowledge here?


    --------------------------------------------------

    Well Ennis was competing against the best in the world in her event in the Euros, whereas everyone knows that the Africans (Kenyans and Ethopians) are the best athletes in the 5000 and 10000 metres. Even Mo Farrah recognises this which is why he goes over to train with them. Their times are about a minute quicker than Mo had to run to win the 10000 Metres. Mo won the Euros in 28 Mins 24.99 secs, the last olympics were won in a time of 27 mins 1.17 secs. Indeed the world record is over two minutes quicker, about 5 seconds a lap.

  • Comment number 23.

    What a great championship. My entire family including my 3 year old, were glued to the TV all week cheering on each of our atheletes. Kids all over the country must have been spurred on by their success. Well done team....

  • Comment number 24.

    I'm pleased at the medal haul, pleased at the Beeb's coverage (particularly online) and pleased that Van Commenee is already putting the boot down on those that didn't achieve. It's important to celebrate but just as important to not paper over the cracks elsewhere.

    So thumbs up all round, really.

  • Comment number 25.

    Rather than worry about the Russian women dominating the medal table, I would worry more about the continued lack of impact of the British women. This has been going on for long enough to be systematic rather than a brief blip. Of the 19 British medals, how many were for women? I believe that the final haul was one gold (Jessica Ennis) and three bronze, making it a 15-4 male-female split.

    In the mens' comeptition, Britain's 15 medals was the highest haul, although France, with 13, finish ahead thanks to their 7 golds. No other country too more than six mens' medals (Russia, Germany and Poland) and only Russia and Poland obtained more than one gold (compared to 5 for Britain and 7 for France). For a team that virtually does not participate in the throwing events and thus competes with a third of the team missing, still beating Germany, which does have a tradition of throwers, is pretty good.

    In the womens' events, Britain lagged far behind Russia (18 medals, 7 gold) and Germany (10 medals, 3 gold), with the team placing 9th in the medal table.

    The official placing table does not do a M/F split, but you can see that Britain had slightly fewer finalists (30) than France (37), or Germany (32), but far more quality than anyone other than Russia and France: 12 of the 32 German finalists and 11 of the French placed 6th-8th against just 6 for Britain. Spain had only marginally fewer finalists than Britain (27), but no less than 13 of them placed 6th-8th.

    Another way of looking at it is that with 30 finalists, Britain had 30 medal shots and converted 63%. Russia converted 44%, France 49%, Germany 50% and Spain 30%. That sounds like a success story to me.

  • Comment number 26.

    @ post 10 - anywembley tickets.

    thats not a nice thing to say. What makes you think they were poached, and not settled in their new country. My father came from pakistan in 1966 and he wears the England Top with Pride.

    I guess people like you think everybody should represent the countries of their origin ....which doesnt bode wekk for the england cricket or football team now does it!!!!

  • Comment number 27.

    @20, Dalgrush

    'We may look in awe as Bolt stops the clock at improbably early times'

    ... and Bolts stops the clock at a new world record of 9.57am!

  • Comment number 28.

    Mo won the Euros in 28 Mins 24.99 secs, the last olympics were won in a time of 27 mins 1.17 secs. Indeed the world record is over two minutes quicker, about 5 seconds a lap.

    ----------------

    That's what I guessed you would say. It's embarrassingly off the mark. You do not run world record times in 30 degree heat and 80% humidity. That's why the 5000 and the 10000 turned into slow, tactical races. It's why the womens' marathon looked so horribly slow.

    If you are comparing times with the Bislett Games, or the Ivo van Damme, you can't. Quite apart from anything, Mo Farah had 4 races in 6 days in conditions that were sapping to put it mildly.

  • Comment number 29.

    It's an improvement from last time but it is still less Golds than we have won on previous occasions (albeit many more than last championships).

    However this is the European Championships and should we really be happy that Russia, a country not known for its sprinters, is beating us so comfortably in some of those events?
    How many of our medalists would medal in the Olympic Games?
    This is a building block but that only. We are a long way off winning medals when it counts in the really big competitions and people should stop eulogosing over our 'amazing' performance. Our entire female team won just ONE Gold. That's good is it?

    Only in Britain do we celebrate mediocracy so vivaciously.

  • Comment number 30.

    RE: "the mascot Barni a half-baked shambles."

    Yeah, Fordyce! You stick it to that...mascot...entirely designed for children.

  • Comment number 31.

    I watched a good deal more of these championships than I thought I would. I enjoyed it, thanks to some pretty good performances and decent commentary. I thought it was absorbing as Wimbledon or frankly the world cup, and I bet it cost a lot less to put on. I didn't actually spend a lot of time thinking about whether we'd have won this or that with the non-Europeans present, and I'm quite happy to leave that one for another day. So well done guys, athletes and TV people both.

  • Comment number 32.

    thanks beeb for good coverage and clearing the schedules!

  • Comment number 33.

    # 28 stargazer

    It was someone else who answered your question to me earlier, and he wasn't "embarrassingly off the mark" I'm afraid.

    You may not accept the idea of world records as a benchmark, and to an extent you have a point. But all you have to look at is the respective athletes' personal bests, which is an undisputable benchmark, to see that Farah would have no chance - unless his rivals all had food poisoning the night before.

    Giving Farah a chance against the kenyans and Ethiopians is like saying Lemaitre could go out there now and beat Bolt. Theoretically possible, but requires a whole set of abnormal circumstances, to say the least.

  • Comment number 34.

    A good performance, and CvC has definitely started to instill some order within the team and that is showing on the track.
    However I still question the decision not to fill all the available places. The only way that our fringe athletes will improve is by getting more competition, and here was a ready made opportunity for some of them to get that competition.
    They don't get invited to major international meetings, so spend a lot of time running against their domestic rivals, which without wishing to disrespect anyone, isn't of a high enough standard to force them to stretch themselves.
    One real bonus is that we are now seeing athletes who are not only good at what they do, but also personalities with it (Jess, Philips, Perri and to a lesser extent Mo).
    These are the sort of role models that are likely to make youngsters want to work to succeed in athletics instead of drifting away to other sports or distractions.

  • Comment number 35.

    There seems to be a fantastic team spirit the athletics is not given such a hard time by the press as with football. How long before the expectations raise to unachievable levels and the press has a field day having a go at our athletes. Lets not have unrealistic claims by the press in the build up to 2012. Things do happen in major competitions - our sprint relay teams are a good (bad) example of what can go wrong. Although I have to ask - what's going on there. One non athlete related point - let's NOT have a mascot running riot in 2012. I'm sure the athletes are not impressed with an over enthusiastic dummy in a costume getting right into their faces. Get rid.

  • Comment number 36.

    26. At 10:45am on 02 Aug 2010, dammage wrote:
    @ post 10 - anywembley tickets.

    thats not a nice thing to say. What makes you think they were poached, and not settled in their new country. My father came from pakistan in 1966 and he wears the England Top with Pride.

    I guess people like you think everybody should represent the countries of their origin ....which doesnt bode wekk for the england cricket or football team now does it!!!!
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    They may well be settled in their new country, but we're not talking about people like Mo Farah who came over as a child and is as British as your Father obviously feels. We're not talking about refugees who need a place to live, these athletes use the 3 year resedency rule to get international competition because, as a rule, they are not quite good enough to be representing their own country, and I don't think any country should be holding back the development of their own people in the search for a gold medal, not quite the spirit of competition in my eyes.

  • Comment number 37.

    True, Mo Farah's season best time is only ranked 15th (although set when winning in Marseille in June and while preparing for the European Championships, so far from peaking). 11 of the faster times this season are Kenyan, 2 from USA and 1 from Canada. You can only run 3 athletes from the same country in the Olympics, so he would actually rank 7th. That is not way out of contention.

    When in the build-up to a major championships you are doing 27:28 you are not out of your league. 5 of the better times in 2010 came in one extraordinary race in California in May where 27:10 was only good enough for 4th (Chris Thompson set his season's best finishing 6th in that race).

    Anyway, that's by-the-by. My objection is to people seeing a slow time in a tactical race in conditions totally unsuited for distance running and claiming that the time is significant in some way globally. NOne of the top 10 times this season was set later than May 15th.

  • Comment number 38.


    Had to listen twice to Van Commenee, he did use the word "disgrace" when referring to the shambles in the relay.

    Well done that man, the only way we go forward is being brutally honest

    Wish he would have been in charge during the recent Debacle in South Africa, he would have had a field day.

    The serious point is though you dont hand out public bollickings willy nilly but it does take people out of their comfort zone, dont mess with me sonny otherwise you are out.

    Did I read that one of the gold medal winners had previously lost his lottery funding ? Well, if so, well done that guy, that is showing people what a man you really are. Now what can we do with our footballers ? Ah forget it !!!!, Did we enjoy Beijiing ? Have we enjoyed Barcelona ? Did we enjoy South Africa ? Ah, forget those ego trippers, lets look forward to 2012. London that is, not Poland/ukraine for the football.

  • Comment number 39.

    Some points that always confuse with regard to UK Athletics. Why do we not send young athletes to these events to gain experience. Some have the qualifying standards, some just outside, but either way the experience gained would be invaluable. Our approach is not copied by other nations who seem more than happy to blood their young athletes.

    Also a lot of our younger athletes were competing at the World Juniors in Canada, including a group of very talented field athletes. The future is not all doom and gloom in this area in the run up to 2012.

    What also confuses me is the attitude of the Lottery Commission with respect to funding. Poor Andy Turner, at least he proved the Commission is wrong in its short sighted approach to funding our elite athletes.

  • Comment number 40.

    Sorry to inject a bit of reality in this debate. Mo Farah's winning time in the 10k was 28:24.99. That would have placed him SIXTH at the just-concluded African Athletics Championships in Nairobi, trailing the winner, Kenyan Wilson Kiprop, by 54 seconds. His winning time in the 5K, 13:31.18, would have placed him third in Nairobi, trailing the winner - Kenyan Edwin Soy, by over half a minute.
    Farah will win gold in 2012 if there are no Kenyans, Eritreans or Ethiopians running. And what are the chances of THAT happening?

  • Comment number 41.

    Take your point Stargazer, fair enough.

    But we also have to remmeber that come the finals in 2012 (or any others for that matter), all the contestants will be running under the same conditions - heat, humidity, pressure etc. And everything else being equal, Farah is simply slower than his main African rivals. I'm not having a pop at him - the same is true of all European middle-distance runners.

    Another thing is the Kenyans and Ethiopians invariably have 3 finalists and always run as a team (Brit 1500 m runners please take note!). That's why they're so hard to beat - that and their superior PBs, obviously.

    Mo's fantastic final kick to hang onto the win in the 5,000 was a great emotional moment. It would be just as heroic if he were running against a world-class field - the difference being that the three medallists would already be on the finish line, 60 metres ahead.

  • Comment number 42.

    The people pointing at the time in the 5k/10k finals and comparing it to other races don't understand how competitive racing works.

    Put one of the athletes from, say, the African Athletics Championships into the European race, and it wouldn't have been significantly faster. You race against the field you're presented with, you don't just run as fast as you can in every race. You do enough to win against the field you're against, no more, no less. Put Mo into that African Athletics Championships field, and he'd probably have recorded a faster time too.

    That's not to say Mo, or anyone else, is going to win a medal. There's two years to go until the Olympics, and two years is a long time in sport. There's a lot of hard work still to go (and van Commenee is exactly the right guy at the top to ensure that happens!) But it's absurd to look at times from two different races, especially over longer distances, and say that the athlete who won one race would only have come sixth in the other (or vice versa).

  • Comment number 43.

    "Poor Andy Turner, at least he proved the Commission is wrong in its short sighted approach to funding our elite athletes."

    Absolutely not. Perhaps Turner needed exactly the kind of kick up the behind that having his lottery funding cut gave him.

  • Comment number 44.

    Best ever performance but the manager is not satisfied and he slags off under performers

    Think he might like to manage a certain international football team in his spare time

  • Comment number 45.

    @ post 19 - put this man in charge of the Olympic ticket allocations now!!!

    As for this Championships and their validity. Brendan Foster made the best comment when he said that Mo Farah should enjoy this success and not worry too much about the future. (For what it's worth Farah came 7th in the World's last year so with continued improvement and home advantage he's probably not far off an Olympic medal). Frankly, if I could call myself European Champion at anything I'd be pretty chuffed.

    And @ post 30 - the mascot's for kids - so that makes it ok that it was crap?? My young kids kept saying how stupid it looked and how irritating it's behaviour was. Why can't athletes be left to celebrate themselves without some poor muppet in a costume being expected to join in - the Philips Idowu 'headband' was particularly sad -now if it had had an eyebrow piercing and a stud in it's tongue......

  • Comment number 46.

    Well said stevieeng34! Brits and mediocracy. They have a certain reputation when it comes to this. Before the WC in South Africa your Football squad was favourite to win the title. Finally they have been beaten by a brilliant German team. Again. I was thinking that understatement is a synonym for Brits but I guess it is more a sysnonym for Germans. But steve it is always better to be jingoistic if it comes to celebrate your " brilliant" sportsmen than to build up your British selfconfidence by attacking the Falklands or Iraq.

  • Comment number 47.

    Well done GB! Pity we were pipped by the French in the medal table. It is also a shame that some of the major players are not going to be at or are considering not going to the Commonwealth Games.

    Roll on 2012 and hopefully we will do even better than 2008 now that our confidence is up.

    England Football team you should be ashamed. These real athletes get paid a fraction of what your lowest paid "player" receives but they have the pride and dedication to push the boundaries in order to represent their country.

  • Comment number 48.

    I have to laugh! :-D Half the posters who talk about Mo Farah say that he has no chance against Africans. The other half say that he IS an African and not British!

    One point worth noting is that he is spending a lot of his time training at altitude in Africa.

    Don't write him off yet. In Cross Country he is competing against the best Africans and beating most of them. I supect that these championships have seen the best of Chris Thompson; Mo Farah though has more to give.

  • Comment number 49.

    Could you get more of a contrast between this GB Athletics Team and England's World Cup team ? Inspiring, motivated, joyful, passionate, some such as Andy Turner achieving gold despite losing his lottery funding. Contrast this team with the overpaid, underperforming, individuals who gave the impression that they really were not that bothered about representing their country in South Africa at all.

    This athletics team provide the perfect sporting role models for our youngsters. Extremely talented individuals competing for the love of their sport. Money, fame.. all that is secondary.

    After the dire performance of England left a bitter taste in the mouth, the success of our athletes is very sweet indeed.

  • Comment number 50.

    I do not understand the need to compare the European championships with the African or any other for that matter. The above article is a work on the games we have just watched, an event that stands on its own.

    I love the excitement of watching great competition, tight and unpredictable results, the joyful reaction of a youngster putting themselves in the public eye for the first time, or the more experienced battler rebuffing the impudent youth trying to capture their ground.

    From 2012 there will be a European championship every two years and I have to say that I am delighted, I do not care if the times, distances and heights are not as good as other intercontinental competitions.
    I only care that the athletes perform to their best possible without the aid of performance enhancing extras and they enjoy being the best they can be...

    Well done to all the competitors, coaches and organisers that came together to make the European Championships a resounding success.

    And a first for me...Well done the BBC on a very good coverage of the event, I thought nearly all of the specialist pundits were very good and informative, Micheal Johnson in particular.
    Just get Wardolf and Stadler back to the north east and it will be even more enjoyable.

  • Comment number 51.

    Do Americans belittle their field athletes because the standard isn't as high as that in Europe, or belittle their distance athletes (and sprinters for that matter - come on Jamaica and the Bahamas), because the standard isn't as high as that in the Commonwealth? I don't think so.
    Well done to all of our athletes.

  • Comment number 52.

    @#50: The comparison is because the remarks after the article consider team GB's chances at the 2012 Olympics. Which will involve all comers. And who will necessarily be the best their countries have to offer. And for Mo Farah, these happen to be the East Africans, who are also the best in the solar system. Geddit?
    ---
    In truth, a little more training should see Farah and colleagues significantly improve their times over the middle and long distances. But I still cannot quite figure why the UK is not much better than it is at athletics - look at the sprints, where Britain's raw talent is unquestionable, but the final product is always a little underwhelming (even Dwain Chambers at his best could not hold a candle to the Americans and the Jamaicans, while Lewis-Francis is probably the most talented sprinter never to make any sort of impact internationally, save for the odd silver or relay gold). It was great to see Turner take the hurdling gold, and it is instructive that he had been denied funding - perhaps therein lies a clue to team GB's nondescript record at international level?

  • Comment number 53.

    Don't get carried away. We still came 3rd in the medal table and won fewer golds than at FIVE previous Euros. A lot better than the low point of 2006 but still not great overall.

    Only a few of our medallists have genuine medal chances at 2012. Mo Farah looked good against poor opposition and will only win an Olympic medal if there's an African boycott of the Games. His times are simply not good enough and he's never done it at global level.

  • Comment number 54.

    # 25. Stargazer If you look at the results from recent World & Olympics you will actually find that in individual events our women have won more medals than the men. In terms of the standards at the Euros not being comparable to world standards it's really the men's track events which are the weak link. Of our female medallists Jessica & Jenny have already proved themselves on the world stage & many people have picked out Perri as the real breakthrough performer who is also destined for future success on the world stage.

    It's been a fantastic week, think I might watch some of the events on I-Player tonight as I will feel a little bereft now. It was disappointing to see the empty seats in the stadium, although the stadium did look much fuller at the weekend. Are the Spanish not that interested or was the relative lack of Spanish success a factor too. It will be interesting to see how popular these champs are in Olympic year. In normal circumastances I would expect Helsinki to be a sell out as the Finns love their athletics but holding the event 3/4 weeks before the Olympics seems daft. Charles Van Commenee has already indicated that those selected for London will not be competing at the Euros & I can't believe Britain will be the only country to adopt this policy. OK we may not have seen the best in the world in many events this last week but we have genuinely seen the best in Europe, injury permitting. The Euros in Olympic years will be a 2nd string development event. It will be interesting to see how much coverage the BBC will give this event.

  • Comment number 55.

    Apparently, Tiger Rose, the authorities at Mont Juic did not even open the seating of large sections of the stadium for sale for most of the week. Having been in Barcelona at this time of the year, I can assure you that going out in the sun for even a few minutes is a trial. Sitting in the stadium in the afternoon invokes thoughts of "mad dogs and Englishmen", quite apart from the fact that the city empties at this time of year.

    The Spanish media really do go overboard with success and, even if the faith wobbbled a little over the first 3 days, the final tally of 8 medals has been trumpeted very loudly over radio and television. The media also make great store of a top-8 position as being a finalist (as it is in the placing table) and treated as akin to a winning a medal. Before the 10 000m Final the host broadcaster was suggesting strongly that a Spanish 1-2-3 was likely, so *expectation* of success has not been the problem.

  • Comment number 56.

    @#52 Maybe a blog on the Olympics and the British lack of chance to shine their is in order then.

    The ability of the British public to turn a relatively successful and joyous occasion into one of pending doom and gloom never fails to amaze and amuse me..

    We can all see the times, heights and distances recorded by athletes at various other meetings, it does not take a lot of research or viewing of eurosport to see them and then to realise that Great Briton is in league two of the majority of athletic events, but do you know, I just do not care, the European Athletic Championships were a massive success and very entertaining..

  • Comment number 57.

    #27 I think you mean #27 not @27! If you're going to be a pedant at least get your own post right. I stand by the use of early actually becuase the commonly used "quick time" doesn't make sense, with units of time being constant.

  • Comment number 58.

    Not read all the comments but I would hope that most would agree that it was a most enjoyable championships with some real highlights. Mo Farah in the 10k was my favourite, although Perri shakes-drayton was a delight, as was some of the mens hurdles results.

    But at the same time there were worries, such as Lee Mcconnell's individual 400m and the mens lack of tactical nouse in the 1500m final. Lisa Dobriskey made a good effort but I feel she lacks something and should have got a medal last night. Lack of tactical understanding seems to be a theme that runs through all of our UK athletics teams.

    All in all though, i agree with Tom's blog and look forward to seeing the UK team improve in coming champs.

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    I think you'll find it's mediocrity boys and girls. And this so called 'mediocrity' is celebrated because? Well, because people won things. People were pretty decent at a competition. They were in the top three in various events. Which is why Gold, Silver and Bronze were created. They had other people from other countries to compete against, and they did quite well against them.

    So stop looking down your nose at them, get off your lazy rears and cheer them on! Because they have the get up and go and the talent to at least give it a go. Whilst you sit down and chew on your pork scratchings and sup your beer and call them mediocracy.

    I'd much rather tune in and watch these athletes challenge the competition than sit and read your inane drivel.

    Yours faithfully. Knowing I'll probably get moderated for that last bit.

  • Comment number 61.

    A much better and more balanced 'blog' than many you read on athletics. Some good comments as well. Overall...a promising championships..a good springboard for further progress

    A couple of thoughts;
    (i)Sheer nonsense about Mo Farah being 'half a lap' behind the Kenyans/Ethiopians. In the 2009 World Championship 5K final he placed 7th in 13m 19.69...approximately 2 secs behind the winner..the great Kennenisa Bekele. He must now have increased confidence that he has the strength to go with his sprint finish. No one is suggsting he is more than an outside 'shot' for a medal in 2012..but its equally erroneous to suggest he has no chance at all or only if (how did it go( "all the 'Africans went down with food poisoning'.").Silly stuff. World/Olympic 5k's are often run as tactical races..in 2007 Bernard Lagat won in 13m 45.87...Hardly ever are they run anywhere near World record times..or even below 13m. Agreed it would be nice to see Mo go below 13m a few times in the right races...but I think he will.
    (ii)In looking at possible World/Olympic medallists don't forget Dai Grenn. His winning time in the 400m hurdles would have given him bronze in both the last 2 World championships.

    On a less cheery front, I think that the post race comments of the mens 4x400 team showed excessive complacency...a time under 3m should have been within 'their compass' ...taking the gold easily...their time for silver was very ordinary. Moreover I think the composition of the team needs looknig at...there is surely a case for the inclusion of Dai Green and Rhys Williams to maximise potential ..and probably add competitive edge as well.

  • Comment number 62.

    Re Mo Farah. I can see both points of view expressed in this blog but lets be real. 2 names summarise why Farah will not get the big medals - Bekele and Sihine. They are way ahead of both Farah and others. Only injury will stop them.
    A more interesting issue was the omission of some younger and/or "coming" athletes from the team (in some events mid-20's can still be a developing age). Brett Morse has already been mentioned elsewhere and it was inexcusable to omit a thrower who is improving so quickly. In the absence of Sayers a similar case could have been made to take Whittingham in the womens javelin and Campbell in the mens javelin. It is no use Van Commenee and others complaining about a lack of throwers when they fail to encourage young talent.

  • Comment number 63.

    We watched every minute broadcast in the evenings - a real pleasure to see genuine enjoyment of success and indeed taking part. The togetherness of the Heptathletes taking the deserved applause from the crowd was my favourite moment. No mega egos and dummies being spat out here. Football take note.

    Further the level of analysis from the Beeb team was superb. In Michael Johnson we have access to one of the greatest athletes of all tiime - thank goodness the Americans are not big in theuir coverage and this gem gives us (and Mark Lewis-Francis) the benefit of his experience. So so much better than watching the personality by-pass that is Alan Shearer telling us this is a "Big, big game for Howard Webb"! As if we did not know. Keep up the good work on and off the track.

  • Comment number 64.

    As I said, Mo is only 'an outside shot' for a medal ...no one is suggesting he is a gold medal prospect..

    However

    (i)Even the greatest, ie Bekele get injured/lose form
    (ii)My objection was to those who seemed to think that because an athlete doesnt rank in the worlds top , say, 20 on times she/he has no chance of medalling at all in a real, Championship race...clearly not true

  • Comment number 65.

    From a British perspective this surely has to be the best European Athletics Championships bar none. We should congratulate ourselves but at the same time we mustn't take our foot off the pedal. Fortunately though, with Charles Van Cominee around, this is not going to happen. Yes, we still have some way to go but considering where we were as an athletics nation 10 or even 5 yrs ago, we have come along way.

    I think this EAC really captured the imagination of the British public in a way that hasn't been the case since the 80's or at least early 90's. This is good that it has done so as the EAC's were becoming too low key and weren't being promoted or advertised enough on TV or Radio to get people other than Athletics fanatics to watch.

    I do wish we would stop belittling the (Euro)Championships though, and it annoys me when some people say that the standard is getting ever lower. Try saying this to Jessica Ennis, or Mo Farah (who incidentally has joined an elite group of athletes which include the great Emile Zatopek). I think perhaps the standard did dip abit in the 90's and for much of the 00's but is now becoming higher again which has to be good. Yes, there are events where the European standard is not as high as could be expected but I'm sure this was the case with certain track and field events 20 or 30 yrs ago. It's very difficult to have a high standard in all the events - after all this is the EUROPEAN athletics championships NOT the WAC.


    One last thing. I don't agree with the switching of the EAC's to a two yearly event from a four yearly event. I can understand the reasons for this - more exposure, more interest from the general public, more TV money but I think in the process they (the governing body of European Athletics) may have 'cheapened' the event. How can it be sensible to have the next EAC just three weeks before the Olympics?? it's lunacy!!

    Of course the medal prospects for 2012 aren't going to risk it by entering the next EAC, meaning that the next EAC will contain athletes who wouldn't have otherwise qualified to compete. Can this be a good thing? yes - for those athletes but the public are being short-changed. At the end of the day we want to see the cream of the cream not just very good club athletes but the best that there is. Moving the EAC'S to become a two yearly event is a big mistake.

    They should revert back to the event being every four years after the next EAC, and also I think they should change the World Athletics Championships so that they also become every four years, as I feel this event is compromised due to it being every two years. Records and Champions should last for four years not two. If they had both the WAC's and EAC's in odd years but alternate odd years (as with the Olympics and Commonwealth Games being alternate even years) then there would be just one major athletics event every year. This way it would stop athletes from being forced to choose the championships to pull out of (when fit) as will be the case with the next EAC'S. Does anyone else agree with me here?

  • Comment number 66.

    Its hard to get a true gauge on how successful GB will be on a world stage when you factor in that the best sprinters and long distance athletes are respectively American/ Jamaican and African.

    Good results but it going to be much harder at the Olympics. Cycling still leads the way for GB in terms of success on an a world scale.

  • Comment number 67.

    The performance of our team was exceptional. Congratulations to all of them (medal or not), with the exception of the 100 relay squads of course!

    However, the performance of the commentary team was abyssmal to say the least! The classic were;
    referring to an athlete as the Frenchman Djohn(?) when in fact he was ENGLISH,
    getting the order wrong in the 110 hurdles by saying that one athlete was making up ground when in fact he was clearly at least a yard ahead, Cram & Foster consistently miscalling athletes and their positions, And last but not least Denise Lewis doing her own ego trip everytime.
    To be honest we need to get rid of the lot of them (Michael Johnson and Colin Jackson excluded) and bring in those whose eyesight is not failing or who dont think that we are more interested in their reminiscences than whats actually going on on screen.

  • Comment number 68.

    In terms of achievements, it might be the biggest medal haul but in terms of gold medals it is the third highest and that is how most medal tables are constructed. Plus we were third and in the past have been second. While its a huge improvement on the last championship it is moreorless on par with previous championships and we have more events than in previous years (prior to 2002).

    That said, I thought Shakes-Drayton looks a real star in the making although Okoro after such huge injury problems was also massive. It was great to see Idowu pull out a huge jump when it mattered and he seems to be maturing late as so many of our athletes seem to do. Apart from the obvious (Farrah and Ennis) plus points for me were Dai Greene's PB, Lewis-Francis getting medal recognition after so many years in the wilderness (hopefully restoring his confidence) and Rimmer in the 800m.

    Great to hear Van Commenee concentrating on mapping the paths to success because in the past athletes have been left to their own devices to a large extent. This helps athletes and coaches concentrate on the areas they should be concentrating on - improving performance.

    In this respect the performances are a great benchmark to see where the athletes are in their development and the structure in place will provide a buffer zone between athletes and media which will help a few of them stay focussed.

  • Comment number 69.

    A word on Mo Farrah - it is great to see Farrah take a step nearer world class by training in Kenya and totally outside his comfort zone. It must be a real humbling experience and a brave step to take this path and an example a few athletes might consider following - maybe one or two sprinters might think about following Simeon Williamson's example and travel to Jamaica to train with the very best.

    Farrah might not become the world's greatest long distance runner but he has certainly shown an admirable sacrifice to improve and as a previous poster said who knows what might happen in a world championship. At the very least I hope that he is able to take Moorcroft's record.

  • Comment number 70.

    United Dreamer, as I said above, a 63% conversion rate of Finalist (i.e. top 8) positions to medals is pretty good and far in excess of our main European rivals. Looked at it in that sense we should feel really delighted. If you can't even get a medal at the European Championships...

    No one is kiiding themselves that we will get 19 track and field medals in London, but we will still be well above the modern low of one solitary bronze in the whole track and field programme.

  • Comment number 71.

    Interesting BBC coverage ? You must be joking !Endless interviews of every British competitor before the event , inane questions on the barrier as they try to catch their breath after the event , and even lengthier ones the next day if they have won some sort of medal .
    As for actual coverage , did it strike anyone that the learned commentator of the decathlon did not mention the winner once until he had actually won the whole event ? Is that incompetence or just because the winner of this most gruelling event happened to be... French ?
    Three cheers for Michael Johnson . He may be a paid hagiographer of all British athletes but at least he talks sense .

  • Comment number 72.

    Well, 19 medals, six golds, third in the table. Nice one GB. However calling this bunch the best European squad of all time is to my mind an insult to the crew of Budapest '98.

    Nine golds, top of the medal table. The class of Barcelona 2010 must still bow down.

    The most obvious area where we fell short were the men's sprints. In '98 we swept the board in both individual events and relays and that included a 1-2-3 in the men's 200m.

    Now OK, the '98 crew didn't have to deal with the likes of LeMeitre but still, we should have taken 400m gold and gold in both the relays.

    Injuries also didn't do us any favours.

    So, good, I've seen a lot worse, but I've still seen better.

  • Comment number 73.

    What is it with BBC commentators regarding the Mascots.

    I believe in this championship and the last World championship the mascots both added a bit of warmth and light hearted personality to the event.

    They were certainly well received by all the competitors as far as I could see.

    Still the members of 'TEAM BBC' (my goodness aren't there a lot of them) feel it necessary to make some silly little suggestion and have a nasty little dig at the mascots.

    I'm sure the tone will be different come 2012 when it is our backyard.

  • Comment number 74.

    Stargazer - that's an interesting stat I wasn't aware of and in that sense I take your point. My judgement was based purely on the medal tally. The stat you refer to is a good reflection that the overall standard is getting better. Top athletes tend to come through randomly in any case but if the overall standard is better then you increase the chances of the very best coming through. Good point.

  • Comment number 75.

    in my life time i just want to see an english usain bolt pleaseeee................................

 

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