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UK athletes struggling to meet high expectations

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David Bond | 17:10 UK time, Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Britain's head coach Charles Van Commenee vowed to deliver seven medals at these World Championships.

At the half way mark the team have three. And with plenty of medal prospects due to compete between now and Sunday, UK Athletics insists there is no need to panic.

Dai Greene in the 400m hurdles, Phillips Idowu in the triple jump and Farah again in the 5000m could yet put a golden gloss on events here in Daegu.

And yet there is already a sense that Britain's athletes have been a little disappointing.


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Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis were expected to win gold but had to settle for silver. Few could justifiably criticise them.

But there are some athletes - such as Lisa Dobriskey in the 1500m and Christine Ohuruogu in the 400m - who should have done better.

Part of the problem is that with London 2012 looming large over events in Korea, expectations have been built to a level which may be unrealistic.

It's only three years since Beijing when Team GB were desperately disappointing in track and field events. The Berlin Worlds were a marked improvement but for years the sport has needed a major overhaul. Even if things improve in Daegu the need for longer lasting change hasn't gone away.

The other problem is that Van Commenee has helped build up those expectations, allowing himself to be drawn into pointless (although headline grabbing) comparisons with the golden generation of the 1980s. He may have been trying to boost his team's morale on the eve of a vital championships but if the team fail to turn it around before they end on Sunday then those words will be thrown back in his face.

Already there are one or two whispers of discontent inside the camp. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Van Commenee is proud of his tough guy image and while it might wind others up, it's his neck that is ultimately on the line next summer.

With four full days of competition left, Britain are 14th in the medal table.

It's too soon to write Britain off but unless things start to improve then some serious questions will be asked of Van Commenee and UK Athletics.


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  • Comment number 1.

    So at the half-way point team GB have 3 medals when 7 were expected, so what David Bond is the problem? Sounds like typical journalism.
    I have got an idea, why not just count the successes for what they are and enjoy the competition?

  • Comment number 2.

    As the article says, it is too early and I really hope we get to the magical seven so as to fulfill the promise and keep eggs and faces apart. However, looking at the performances there have been some school boy errors which our lottery funded, professional athletes at major championships should have avoided and must not do in 2012.

    I for one will be peeking through my finger at the TV screen for the relays and our famous baton changing skills whilst clenching my lucky training shoes.

    Still, it will turn out right on the night, I'm sure ..... won't it?

  • Comment number 3.

    I think most people will share the disappointment so far. It's true that an enormous level of expectation has been placed on the shoulders of our athletes, but it's still disappointing that, with less than a year to go until London 2012, we languish in 14th place in the medal table.

    In terms of individual performances I think Christine wouldn't have really competed beyond the heats - even if she had managed to get that far. Mo tried hard, but to admit you didn't even know the opponent that beat you is like Sir Alex Ferguson saying he didn't research a lower-league club in the FA cup. Jess tried hard too but is always let down by her javelin performance. Andrew Turner did well, but even admits he was lucky to get the bronze.

    The others? Well... Given the funding that certain athletes have been receiving it has to be disappointing that further progress has not been made since London was awarded the 2012 games. Where are the new generation of British sprinters? Why do we never perform well in the throwing competitions. And as for the relay... well, don't hold your breath about baton changes.

    Still time to go in Daegu, but even if Dai and Philips win, it will have been a disappointing games for team GB.

  • Comment number 4.

    The target is 7 one of which is a gold, I think that the team can deliver on the total medals but with two of the best gold medals hopes gone they need one of Dai Greene, Phillips Idowu and perhaps Mo Farah in the 5k to get the gold.
    If all three of those get medals the 7th may come from Jenny Meadows/ the two long Jump boys or the relays. What is a concern is a lack of people in finals, and like the swimming (they just managed their target) too much hype.

  • Comment number 5.

    Van Commenee

    He's the issue.

    All our athletes are choking under the pressure he's giving, and where is he now the going isn't so good?

    Underperformance by all athletes is a management failure and his tough style is not what was required by a group of people performing well and above well for their level and public spats like Idowu make his position untenable.

    He should be gone before we humiliate ourselves in 2012.

  • Comment number 6.

    I really don't think Team GB have performed that badly.

    There have been a few disappointments such as Lisa Dobriskey & I think Perri Shakes Drayton whould be disappointed not to make the final. But then there have been bonuses such as Will Sharman making the hurdles final & Turner getting the bronze. These things always happen at major champs though and one of the striking things about them is the number of favourites who have not won.

    I think the DQs may have affected some people's perceptions but David you are very wrong if you expected Christine to do anything here as she has been in poor form recently. And Chambers, well he wouldn't have made the final & I couldn't care less either, hopefully this will be the last we see of him in a british vest.

    Yes it would have been fantastic if Mo & Jess had won gold but Mo didn't really do anything wrong & whilst Jess will be disappointed I think it might benefit her in the long run. The medal target of 7 still looks achievable and there are still some decent gold chances. Dai Greene looked fantastic in the hurdles semi final & whilst the race will be close has a good chance of gold, Idowu is favourite & Mo could win the 5K depending on how much the 10K has taken out of him.

  • Comment number 7.

    Having watched all of the competition, the only two that have not performed are Ohurougu and Dobriskey. Farah gave all he had, and willl definitely improve, Ennis will improve her performance in the javelin by London 2012. Andy Turner's bronze medal was a great result. We are not a nation who will win numerous gold medals as the depth of competition in the world is far greater than it was 20 to 30 years ago.

  • Comment number 8.

    Maybe the issue is that, relative to population and superior standard of living funding and infrastructure, GB is generally a nation not very good at any sport?

    The reasons themselves for the individual lack of physique, application, bottle and passion, the cracking under pressure and poor handling of success or failure by most sportspeople could vary from genes and physical build to education, upbringing and social culture?

    I know that the above may sound stereotypical or even slightly racist to some but it could actually be true?!


  • Comment number 9.

    They may only (only!) have brought home a silver each but the attitude of Mo and Jess were brilliant and they should not be criticised. Both are great to watch and we should be proud of them.

    The area that concerns me most is when professional athletes (and their coaches) drop below the required standards technically, mentally or physically. Lisa Dobriskey's post race interview was lame and gave no indication that she either understood what had gone wrong, let alone the mental strength to put it right. If we end up with the relay teams throwing batons around again like recent major championships we might justifiably ask the coaches and athletes what they are being paid for.

    Finally, I wouldn't be surprised if our investment in athletics and cost per medal is higher than most other countries. I would suggest that this makes target setting absolutely legitimate to bring accountabilty in a sport where 'sacking' remains a rarity.

  • Comment number 10.

    "What is a concern is a lack of people in finals"

    Really don't understand that comment, unless your compass only recognizes mens track events . Brett Morse, Steve Lewis, Sharman, Parker, England, Aldama , Clitheroe...

    We are doing OK so far without it being as sensational as we'd hoped. Still plenty of prospects in the second half of the event. Let's keep a level head. Sadly in the world of sports journalism, sometimes it has to be all good or all bad, anything in between isn't a story.

  • Comment number 11.

    AJ0619 - Dave Collins was sacked after Beijing with Van Commennee bought in to replace him. (In fact UK Athletics were actively recruiting out in Beijing) so sackings do occur. And there is accountability too as funding is affected by whether targets are met (same with all Olympic sports)

    Nibs - If GB is no good at any sport then how come we managed to win 19 gold medals at the last Olympics & whilst I don't follow the sport I understand the England cricket team are now the best in the world. Two major wins by british golfers this year, Mark Cavendish. There are numerous other examples too which don't always get the media attention they deserve. Daft comment.

  • Comment number 12.

    Of course, journalists have to write articles whether or not there's anything worth reporting on.

    Let's wait until the championships finish before judging.

    Put your pen down Bond.

  • Comment number 13.

    Tiger Rose - one sacking in three years sounds rare to me. I would suggest that athletics remains fairly immune to cuts. The recent funding cull affecting sports like archery/shooting etc. is never likely to be applied to the centre-piece of any Olympics.

    Talking of Cavendish. Can we have some more blogs on cycling please. The Brits are having a cracking Tour of Spain at present (Froome and Wiggins).

  • Comment number 14.

    Half of 7 is 3.5, so 3 is therefore under performing.

    If we had got 4 by now would there be an article on how we'd over performed?

    Or perhaps it could have waited till the end of the tournament to see if there was anything worth writing about.

  • Comment number 15.


    Van Commenee the issue? What are you going on about? Yeah let's go back to the halcyon days of soft leadership and pussy-footing around, shall we?

    "All our athletes are choking under the pressure he's giving"

    Really? The evidence for this being where exactly? Funny how they seemed to do well under Van Commenee in Berlin and Barcelona...

    "and where is he now the going isn't so good?"

    Oh I don't know..doing his job in Daegu perhaps? What do you expect? Him to comment after every single performance? Van Commenee isn't shy..he'll give his verdict AFTER the Championships are over

    "Underperformance by all athletes is a management failure"

    God..i bet the athletes would love you as the head of UK Athletics..them performing poorly would not be their fault..nothing to do with them.

    Does anyone else think that this "spat" with Idowu has made Van Commenee's position "untenable"? Does anyone else think there is absolutely no way Van Commenee can continue with his current job?

    I, for one, am thrilled that we have someone who doesn't stand for any nonsense, doesn't suffer fools gladly and is ready to give the athletes a big kick up the jacksy..If I was an athlete, I'd want to please him..I heard a few athletes say the same during the Team Championships.

    He's educated and he knows what he's talking about! I like him a lot!

  • Comment number 16.

    I do not think it's Van Comenee's fault. There was a time when British athletics - in the days of Andrea Lynch (60mts sprint specialist) languished in the 'B' division of european athletics around the time that Dave Bedford splashed through the rain to set a 10k world record and brendan Foster won GB's only athletics medal - a bronze. Team GB has improve a lot since then, but back then most GB athletes were on the whole 'clean' and were taking on the drug enhanced 'GDR' and other eastern-bloc athletes. Once they were forced by testing to compte on a level playing field we saw Gb winning - yes - actually winning the men's European Cup (twice in a row ((nearly 3 times in a row)). Team GB has always been poor - truthfully very poor, in field events and womens events. There have been mighty exceptions like Tessa Sanderson, Fatima Whitbread, Steve Backley (all Javelin!!!) and Ashia Hanson (TJ), but compared to the unified Germany, Poland and the now free eastern european countries - GB has not really produced world-class jumpers and throwers; Seb Coe says recently that we are "a country of runners" - well there's not been too much evidence of that at these world champ's, rather not enough progress for the £26MILLION of lottery funding that is going in to develop UK athletics - a system much envied by our continental rivals. Even so we can look at the youth and junior european/world comps and there is where we see hope and progress; it's there that GB is seeing a woman pole vaulter winning in her age group - okay Holly Bleasdale didn't get over 4.25mts, but it is a cauldron of expectation in Daguae for a first BIG comp and she is very young. Similarly in the women's shot putt we see an up and coming prospect winning a gold in her european junior comp - a first ever for a British woman and in the mens discus a similar gold. In all the running events British juniors are delivering too - and the support of coaches and UK sport is vital to keep them coming through. It does seem though, no matter how they arrive onto the 'world stage' a kind of 'British Disease' sets in and they go off the boil a sort of arrogance about competing - avoiding comp's and not showing up - for example at the Europa Cup recently ? It's a kind off language thing too - Dai Greene, Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis don't excuse themselves - they don't come off the track saying "I felt awful" - "it just didn't work for me today" - blame the weather or whatever, no - they say "I want gold", "I'm training well" no excuses, they speak like the Americans determined to win or do the best best to win. I get annoyed when we send athletes who simply don't perform and we know they are not going to perform - like Martin Rooney this time - where has he been for the last 18months. Yes, I know he has done well before - very well indeed, but where have all the qurater milers gone ? there were so many just two years ago! Why was good money spent on him and others like him who aren't even getting past the first rounds - it's wrong!!!! I don't think Van Comenee is over-hyping things - the talent is there, but with some exceptions that "British Disease" keeps coming back to hit athletics ... and swimming. British Cycling and British Rowing have cured themselves - so we've got to look there to improve British Athletics still further. Hope this helps the discussion. Lee

  • Comment number 17.

    I'll stand by my comment because that is not really that many people for a 60 member team, Aldama & Clitheroe are both nearing 40 not exactly the future are they? Most of the others also were no where near the medals. If you don't get to finals its obvious that your not in the medal shake up and as the hurdles showed anything can happen. I'm postitive for the second half of the championships however.

  • Comment number 18.

    Don't panic!! We're really not all that good at athletics. The sports at which GB excelled at the 2008 Olympics involved sitting on one's behind - cycling, rowing, sailing, equestrian etc!

  • Comment number 19.

    People have to decide what's mroe important - WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS or Olympics...without being a naysayer I think it's the Worlds and therefore hopefully the GB team won't fail at what after all should be the World's premier event. The Olympics are a friendly competion when you think about it - except for the hype of course.

  • Comment number 20.

    Wow is it just me or does the author of this blog have a pretty spectacularly sized grudge against Van Commenee?? Could be more subtle about it!

    I am an avid sports fan and follow athletics ; I like Van Commene, he tells it straight and doesn't suffer fools ; he realises we have money and the infrastructure that most other nations we dream of yet produce and endless conveyor belt of mediocrity, so the only thing that will do is hard work and humility. He has an air of Andy FLower the england cricket coach, about him. I suppose you (anti VC people) would prefer an LTA kind of appointment? Because British Tennis (bar one obvious exception) is in such health these days!

    How can you hold VC responsible for the performances of Ennis, Farah et al, this time last week they were heralded and lauded as our guaranteed golds - fast forward a week and the guy in charge of the athletics body should lose his job because they underperformed? It is wrong of a sports writer to so obviously suggest that, in both fact and in principle.

    I am reminded of a Novak Djokovic interview, when asked about why we struggled to produce many good tennis players, and he was spoke about how its confusing, you come to england and you see all these beautiful courts and these lovely facilities etc and you think we have to be successful... but that maybe it is all a bit too easy for the kids... he gave an interesting comparison.... he had to work hard every day on the tennis court because his family's livelihood and possibly more, was what he was playing for...he was playing for his family's future and THAT is some motivation/pressure that cannot just be recreated... he knows what it (really) means to fight and it's made him a winner.

  • Comment number 21.

    Although I don't think we've done at all badly (I thought Mo's performance was superb even though he was pipped to the post), there is an underlying problem with how athletics is funded and structured in this country which means we are always going to struggle to compete with countries like the US.

    I am a member of an athetics club and our local athletics track at finsbury park is facing imminent closure due to a severe cut in council funding, a situation which I'm sure is far from unique around the country. It seems to me that there appears to be no long term strategy. Surely in order to improve our elite squad , you have to improve participation at a grass routes level of which local atheltics tracks are absolutely essential. If we don't, we are going to be continuously pinning our hopes on the odd exceptional individual who by some miracle makes it through the system, like Mo Farah (who has only become a real contender since going to train in the US, go figure!).

  • Comment number 22.

    6 medals in 2009 with a target of 7 in 2011.
    2 golds in 2009 with a target of 1 in 2011.

    Doesn't sound like Van Commenee's exactly piling on the pressure to me.

  • Comment number 23.

    Although Montreal '76 was the nadir for the GB Olympic Team - 1 bronze medal in athletics in the 10,000m I think? - we've not done too badly since then. What I would like to know is exactly how much this level of performance, that we are seeing here in Korea, is actually costing us? Sydney 2000 was pretty good - how much did that cost us per medal? More or less than today's figure?

    I'm sure that Mr Van Commonee is on a healthy bonus for delivering on his target so he will use all of his considerable nous to get the best from his squad. There will be a significant wash-up meeting after these championships where serious questions will be asked about some performances.

    But what, realistically can he do? He's only been in the job for a relatively short space of time - no where near long enough to ensure a "production line" of quality athletes coming through from the junior age groups - and that is outside his remit anyway. The problem is that the competition for places is so poor - if we had a surplus of Pole Vaulters capable of 5.60+ or Long Jumpers over 8 meters then we could be more confident that better athletes could step up to the plate - but we don't. Why?

    A serious and long overdue look needs to be taken at the sport by some people who really do know what they're talking about.

  • Comment number 24.

    Van Commennee boosting expectation is a good thing! What do you think the public's expectations are going to be next year? Low?!!!! Anyway 7 medals inc 1 gold isn't that high an expectation from the team we have out there!
    We're matching expectation at the half way point with 2 DQs from people who wouldn't have made their finals becoming headline news!
    Let the bosses of these sports get on with their jobs and then analyse and question them after the event. When we do reach our target (as the team probably will do!) will David Bond get questioned and analysed as to why he wrote yet another non-story exaggerating the 'failures' of a team who are only half way through the competition?

  • Comment number 25.

    Dont worry peoples expectations are not that high.Most folk dont even know this event is even happening. No one where I work or socialise knows or cares its only inside that tiny athletics bubble and the story short media ,looking for a Brit to kick. Their moment in the spotlight will come next year . Then back into obscurity,why else would they be tearing top half off olympic stadium ,or struggling to keep Crystal Palace viable. So dont worry what the papers write .It,ll all be wrapped round chips by Thursday.

  • Comment number 26.

    The most obvious issues would surround acclimatisation/jet lag and the humidity factor.

    As neither will be present in London, if that is the main reasons, although it's disappointing, it's not anything to chop heads off for.

    Far fewer finalists than hoped for is more of an issue than the medals to date....

  • Comment number 27.

    #8 nibs
    Don't put yourself down old fella, no one could accuse you of being racist, quite the opposite, you're obsessed with the English, every post you write is about the English, you study the English more than anyone I've read and that includes the English people themselves. You just have to come to terms with yourself and accept that you can never be English. Jealousy is a wicked thing and can tear a man apart. It is must be tough being Spanish as apart from enjoying a little moment in the sun with their football team, they don't do well at anything really do they? Oh! except for a little bit of cycling but once again, the English/British are the masters at that too, sigh!
    Britain, more F1 Champions than any other nation.
    England, last 2 Rugby World Cup Finals.
    England, No 1 Cricket team in the world.
    England, No 4 Football team in the World.
    England, Top 2 Golfers in the World.
    Britain, invented all of the above.
    Britain, 4th in the 2008 Olympics.
    England, 2nd best league in the world and the most popular.
    We're used to jealousy as a nation but you are way over the top, stop embarassing yourself you BBC addict you.

  • Comment number 28.

    How many medals has "the greatest sporting nation on earth" (aka Australia) won?

  • Comment number 29.

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

  • Comment number 30.

    What a bunch of negative, pessimistic comments. As for those saying Britain is doing poorly, where are Spain, France, Japan and Italy on the medal table? They are all big modern countries with a history of athletics, yet we are easily out-performing them.

    Get some perspective - only four countries have won more medals than us thus far (out of 203 nations competing). And who are they? Yes, three of the biggest and richest countries in the world, plus Kenya (which is a world beater in long-distance but terrible at almost everything else).

    Why bother watching at all if you are looking through grey-tinted spectacles?

  • Comment number 31.

    Too early to talk a lot of nonsense David, so Jess got a silver? Good enough isnt it? She was beaten on the day by the better athlete, maybe Jess will know where to improve, muck it up now to improve it.
    Same with Mo, work on the last meters that let him down.
    But one major thing, as least the Championships are being aired on TV, I see Channel 4 are showing it, what happened to the BBC??

  • Comment number 32.

    In the case of Lisa Dobriskey, I think she has often under-performed. I think she has talent and there is no doubt she is committed, but you only have to spend 5 minutes listening to her in interviews to see the problem. What she needs is a sports psychologist. She may have access to one already, but she still rolls over too easily and reacts too slowly to changes during a race.

    However, the same is also true of quite a few British athletes.

  • Comment number 33.

    Forget the "sense that Britain's athletes have been a little disappointing" at these championships, to be realistic, they have been as expected. The sense of disappointment could be that 6 years on from London being granted the games there has been no real increase in Britain's medal winning potential for next year, as an example just look at the Men, from the 100m to 1500m in our nation of runners you would find it difficult to name a potential medalist or even finalist for next year and is there anyone who can make that improvement in 11 months or appear on the scene such as Kirani James ? The hope is that we see a significant leap in standards next year as perhaps some athletes (even our current medal winners) are saving their best until then.

  • Comment number 34.

    #28 cruyff74
    1X F1 Champion
    45th football team in the World
    8th and 10th best Golfers in the World
    5th best cricket team in the World
    R/Up 2004 Rugby World Cup to England
    6th in the 2008 Olympic Table

    Not quite the best cruyff74
    Jessica Ennis will find this Russian girl as much trouble as she could wish for in 2012, she's only 22 years old compared to Jessica's being 25, so she will only improve. We shall have to hope the London factor works in our favour with the girls.

  • Comment number 35.

    The truth is Athletics or Track n Field has millions of pounds spent on it for little or no return. Athletics in the UK is a sport with ready made excuses for failures.

  • Comment number 36.

    #34. I was being ironic, of course, but thanks for the interesting stats

  • Comment number 37.

    Plenty of good points on here and pleased to see those highlighting the absurd negativity less than half way through the event. Yes, it would have been great if Mo and/or Jess could have won gold but we have other chances and I think the 7 medal target will be met (just!).
    Half way through the world swimming champs a few weeks ago we were beating ourselves up and then, hey presto, 2 golds and a silver on the final 2 days and we leapt ahead of that over rated shower from down under!
    Even if we don't win a gold medal here, we shouldn't go overboard as we are getting more athletes in finals and we do also have the likes of Germaine Mason still injured amd many others still recovering from a significant time on the sidelines.
    Field events are still an issue and Van Commenee has consitently highlighted the need for improvement in this area so lets give him a chance. I doubt we will see a stack of throwing medals in London but it is an avenue well worth exploring as the competition in terms of global participation is nowhere near at the level it is on the track.

  • Comment number 38.

    Athletics is surely one of only a few truly international sports. Other than football, I can't think of any other sport where you have 'top performers' from so many different countries.

    With that in mind, I think it's always going to be harder to get progress just through investment - especially when warmer countries can produce athletes with very limited facilities. I don't think that's going to happen in Rowing, Cycling or Diving for example where only countries who can afford the latest technology/facilities are likely to prosper.

    I think we can do better in athletics and hope we will prove we can do so in the coming years. I'm certainly content with the start we've made so far in Daegu. I'm also encouraged by UKA's committment of late to educate current grass-roots coaches, but on the flipside I'm also seriously concerned about local council's closing facilities.

    One or two posters have mentioned a lack of world class jumpers... One poster said we've had hardly any top field athletes and managed to miss out Jonathan Edwards amongst others!!! Someone said we've had very few world class male jumpers... How many High Jumpers have been over 2.30 in the last few years?! Tomlinson and Rutherford are exchanging UK records - just 2 of our 4 jumpers over 8m this year!!! Edwards and Idowu haven't done badly either, and Douglas has been very unfortunate this year otherwise I'm sure would've made the final. Certainly agree things could be better on the female side, but the LJ particularly has been greatly improved on a national level this year.

    In terms of the throws... I think we struggle to produce male throwers due to Rugby, and female throwers due to body image issues which are perhaps not so prominent in other countries. Having said that, there is a lack of infrastructure and particularly a lack of coaches for throwing events at grassroots level IMO.

  • Comment number 39.

    I think there is a balanced argument for both sides. On one hand the investment should be producing good results but on the other hand lets take a view once the tournament has ended. What team GB should is take inspiraton and ideas from high performance teams like our cricket team and drill down as to why they are successful. I believe there is fantastic talent here but my opinion is that psychologically some are better prepared than others. I dont believe track and field is dependent "on the day". The legends of the sport work tireless to ensure their craft is mastered to ensure they are consistent. I wonder how much money is ploughed into mentally preparing our athletes. As for CVC's approach and leadership style, its not as nurturing as some may like but lets judge his performance after 2012. Im sure we all questioned Andy Flower and the rest of the management at the ECB en route to being no.1 in the world.

    The real issue for me is the travesty of another television channel showing the athletics. Advertisements have no place in sport!

    The End.

  • Comment number 40.

    Athletics is a truly global sport and is therefore much more competitive and inclusive. Every country in Europe aside from Russia and Germany is, at present, performing 'worse' than GB. Any successes we have seem to be totally undervalued by the depressingly cynical, negative press that we have in this country. In some countries they party in the street if they win anything!!
    I think we should just appreciate what we do win. Some journalists won't be happy until we come back with 20 or 30 champions. I'm fed up of it. Stop harping on about shortcomings all the time. Athletes make mistakes. There are an awful lot of athletes who aren't British and happen to want to win as well.

  • Comment number 41.

    My you must be a miserable bloke. No worse than that - because this kind of completely unmerrited media criticism is downright rude to people who have performed extremely well. Mo did fantastic, while Jess was nothing like the nailed-on gold you made her out to be - give that Russian girl some credit. Check out her PBs and you'll see if she perfomed she was always going to be a big challenge.

  • Comment number 42.

    Post 39 the turn around in English cricket came from one day. Being bowled out for 51 in a test match in the West Indies was the point that caused a complete re think in attitude and planning.

    The cricket team became fitter, more competitive, employed the best staff and ensured that there was a plan. It has taken a number of years and now we have players fighting to get into the team and once in the team they have to perform or they are out. This shape up or ship out attitude also occurs in cycling and rowing with no nonsense coaches and lots of real competition driving performance not a consoling "well you tried your best" and "there is always next year" that seems to predominate in athletics.

    The athletics team still strikes me as a group where repeated failure to perform at top level seems to be accepted and an inordinate number seem to be injured.

    Too many experienced athletes seem accepting of failure and spiel out the usual suspects of bad luck, niggling injuries and that they will take lessons on board and learn from them. Admittedly the habit of both the BBC and Channel 4 employing commentators summarisers and interviewers that seem accepting of this failure and have an inability to ask the right questions allows them to get away with it.

    Michael Johnson is a notable exception as is John MacEnroe in tennis. Perhaps athletes have been molly coddled for too long and they need to fight for things rather than have them given to them on a plate.

    Once the 2012 Olympics are over and the Aviva sponsorship is over with and the cuts start to bite I can't see so much lottery money going to athletics in general or team GB in particular.

  • Comment number 43.

    I do think we are going a bit over the top about this, i feel we have done quite well up to know with quite a few of our younger athetes getting some very good experiance, yes there ahve been some disapointments but I personally have not be to surprise by how things have gone so far, other than Lisa Dobriskey's failure to go through

    As far as the throws are concern it seem to me we have had quitre a few young atheltes come though in thrrowing events this year

    And as some one has already said we have had some really good results this year in the youth/u23/ ect this year

  • Comment number 44.

    The team is doing just fine, Ennis & Farah are definately worth an upgrade in 2012 and we have plenty of chances left, nobody expected to medal has so far failed which is a good sign, another good sign is that Greene looks the class of the 400mh field after semi's and Farah & Idowu are also primed for medals as well as meadows who beat Kenia Sinclaire (A medal faveourite) in London a few weeks ago who is coming into shape.

    Post 8

    I think in certain aspects you could be correct but surely the logic should be applied more strongly to USA,France,Germany,Spain & Italy and a whole number of countries with similar levels of infrastructure. GB/England are currently doing extremely well in sports on a whole (Swimming,Rugby,Cricket,Hockey etc) and our 4th place finish in the Olympics (Behind Russia,US,China who have populations that dwarf ours) tends to imply the opposite of your assessment. Australia are a prime example of an over-achiever (Currently on a slippery slope down accross the board) historically in relation to their population, they as i just noted are currently on the decline in Athletics (Watt & Pearson need to deliver) swimming,Cricket and in my opinion for the last few years Australian rugby is not the same one i used to watch in awe. So in conclusion i think your idea could be applied in certain aspects but on the whole British sports people thesedays tend to perform well and wholed their nerve (Ennis & Farah did not lose gold, Chernova was certainly better on the day and ennis produced 3 PBs in 7 events, her Javelin was just woeful. As for bottle...I think British (& Aussies) sportspeople have too much of it and it can lose them battles (It happened to Farah).

  • Comment number 45.

    Can someone tell me what the point of this blog is? 'UK athletes possibly performing a little worse than some had hoped' Thats a story? Forget the hype and ignore the mirror image moaning...with some exceptions athletes are performing around the level one might have expected. Do we think that that level is good enough? Whats going wrong with our sprinters , male and female? Why do we always do poorly in most field events etc etc . These are all valid questions...but , really this is a pointless piece at this stage , from a journalist who must have too much time on his hands!

  • Comment number 46.

    Oh, and can I add that though there have been occasions in the past when athletes have 'excused ' themselves, but , contrary to one post above, in general they have been pretty self critical this time...even Andy Turner after he came 4th...that is a positive consequence of Van C (though I'm not overly impressed by how much he likes the sound of his own voice. There are lessons to be learned from cycling/rowing..not least in the centralising of the coaching system, but one needs always to bear in mind that they are sports where only a handful of countries are serious medal contenders(a fact particularly true with rowing)

  • Comment number 47.

    27.At 21:20 30th Aug 2011, kane wrote:

    "Don't put yourself down old fella, no one could accuse you of being racist, quite the opposite, you're obsessed with the English, every post you write is about the English, you study the English more than anyone I've read and that includes the English people themselves. You just have to come to terms with yourself and accept that you can never be English. Jealousy is a wicked thing and can tear a man apart. It is must be tough being Spanish as apart from enjoying a little moment in the sun with their football team, they don't do well at anything really do they? Oh! except for a little bit of cycling but once again, the English/British are the masters at that too, sigh!
    Britain, more F1 Champions than any other nation.
    England, last 2 Rugby World Cup Finals.
    England, No 1 Cricket team in the world.
    England, No 4 Football team in the World.
    England, Top 2 Golfers in the World.
    Britain, invented all of the above.
    Britain, 4th in the 2008 Olympics.
    England, 2nd best league in the world and the most popular.
    We're used to jealousy as a nation but you are way over the top, stop embarassing yourself you BBC addict you."

    Don't worry old chap not too many reasons to feel jealousy for Britain at sport.

    F1 is hugely about equipment, in equal class series Brits despite having the best infrastracture at home are usually quite poor, even the "national" F3 is dominated by foreigners.

    Cricket doesn't count because despite all the domestic coverage it is effectively a NATIONAL sport or shall we say Commonwealth. How many countries play it seriously, no more than 10, and most of them are underdeveloped. In 95% of countries people haven't even heard of the sport itself let alone follow it, if England are happy to beat countries like India Pakistan West Indies SA Australia NZ SL (no disrespect) fine but that's where it ends with cricket.

    Rugby ditto, very few countries 10 or thereabouts have it as a serious sport, most of Europe and other continents don't care.

    The PL again doesn't count as it's not exactly about British sportspeople performing against other nations is it, it's 60 or 70% about foreigners and money.

    Very good at golf at this moment in time yes.

    Spain is better than GB and among the world leaders at things like football tennis basketball (immensely more popular that cricket or rugby) Tour cycling handball bike racing etc, but what do I care about Spain I never mentioned them.

    And when comparing individual ability on equal terms who invented the sports doesn't really matter does it.

    Britain has had some success either at sports with very limited participation & following such as cricket and rugby, or at elitist "rich" sports like sailing or golf, or at sports where equipment -or team- can give a performance advantage eg. motorsport bobsleigh cycling rowing etc.


  • Comment number 48.

    Yes I do think Team GB have underperformed at these games so far, the likes of Ohuruogu, Sanders, Rooney and Dobriskey have been very poor. I do not see why we should send athletes who are plainly out of form and not performing on the international stage(Dobriskey excluded). Rooney is a mystery,a couple of years ago he looked like a world beater now he can't run under 45 secs and ran 46secs in the semis. Pathetic! Don't blame Van Commenee he has been a breath of fresh air with his no nonsense approach and certainly toughened up some of our athletes attitudes.I still think we will hit his medal target but perhaps not with 3 Golds. Greene looks superb in the 400M Hurdles and I think Farrar might have learnt from his 10,000M run about not going too early in time for his 5000M. If he had sprinted from the final 200ms I have no doubt he would have won the race. I am not sure Idowu will win Gold as he is a bit hit or miss but I am sure he will medal. I think a surprise medal might come from Hannah England.She can't run as bad a tactical race again as she did in the Semis can she? She still made the final and the field doesn't look as though it contains any obvious favourites. No chances in the Relays which is where we normally pcik up a couple of medals. Finally to get back to Van Commenee; his attitude the "first is first and second is nowhere" is a point of view I am certain that is shared by the likes of Ennis, Greene and Farrar. Good luck to all of them.

  • Comment number 49.

    Isn't it astounding that when Brits underperform they are somehow rubbish, or they made schoolboy errors that show how amateurish we are, yet when Bolt false starts, Isinbayeva botches her pole vault, or any other 'big name' athletes fail, as many have, it's just bad luck or they're off form but will return triumphant?

    Some people need to get a grip and stop viewing things as absolutes, the margins of error at this level of competition can easily make a minor mistake look like a thrashing, it can also make some posters and bloggers appear as though they know nothing about what they're commenting on.

  • Comment number 50.

    ReallyReal: I would say that you have little understanding about what people are saying on this board. Nobody to my knowledge takes pleasure in slamming our athletes but the fact remains many perform well on the European circuit and collapse at major championships. There has to be a problem with the mindset of some of our athletes who consistenly fail to perform on the World stage. Yes I do think Gold is important, in most of the successful athletic countries first is considered a neccessity.I live and work in China where competitors are expected to come first and are handsomely rewarded for their efforts, in the USA, Australia, Germany and Russia, Gold is expected. I remember when Van Commenee first came to prominence he was quoted as having been less than happy with Kelly Sotherton when she was settling for Bronze, when he plainly felt she could beat Kluff. There is nothing wrong with any athlete who gives their best with a PB only to finish out of the final but there is something has gone amiss with the likes of Ohuruogu or Rooney when they false start in a 400M race and can't run better than 46 sec in a semi when two years ago his best was 44.68 sec!If he was injured then what is the point in his going to Daegu, it certainly doesn't do him any favours to get eliminated in such a fashion. I am immensely proud of our athletics tradition and the likes of Ennis, Greene, Farrar and the youngsters like Jack Green who give 100% . You ask Jack Green what he thinks about missing out on the final and he is only 19.

  • Comment number 51.

    I am not at all concenred at the top end of the sport. We have 4 good gold medal chances - I cannot remember having that many for many a world championships. Mo, Jess and Dai have progressed really well over the last few years.

    I am more worried about the next level. We have had very few finalists. At 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m in Mens and Womens events in London it would be a surprise if we had more than a handful of finalists. Rather than competing for medals Britain will struggle to qualify for relay finals at these championships. The throwing events are even more bleak.

    I think we have a good chance of achieviing the 7 medals target - but the strength in depth is just not there at the moment despite Lottery funding.

  • Comment number 52.

    It seems gold medals are hard to come back at these championships. The expectation that we could win four was over the top. I think if we win one and attain seven medals then that gives us a springboard for next year.

    We are doing as well as we have at all the recent championships, so we should stop this self -flaggelation.

    It is other sports that we are underperforming, compared to the last Olympics, that we should focus our attention on- sailing, cycling and judo. Leave the athletes alone!

  • Comment number 53.

    This is the world champs, so athletes are eligible from over 200 wonder its difficult to be able to say you are in the worlds top 50 should be a result for anyone.

    Clearly more difficult to win than baseballs "world series"

    Jessica Eennis, lovely lady, great athlete and sporting ambassador BUT...she only won in Beijing because Kluft got bored of winning all the time. Now someone better has come along. Give her every credit though that she hasn't resorted to Radcliffe like bleatings.

  • Comment number 54.

    Can I suggest some of (alleged) failing runners take up race walking instead. Its really pretty simple - all you have to do is run around a course for 20km or 50km and you'll get a gold medal. How do I know this. Well I've just seen a gold medal dished out to someone who was clearly running not walking. Freeze frames showed continued violations of the rules (when the shadow cast by a person doesn't even meet up with the person no contact is being made with the ground) - all unpunished. Our (alleged) problems solved !

  • Comment number 55.

    @ #47 Nibs

    Saying rugby is not a truely international sport is rather ridiculous. There are over 100 registered active nations on the IRB website who play regularly. The cost of participation is cheap too, all you need is posts, a ball, boots and a ref. And you have various formats including 7s, 10s and full 15s, which cater for countries of differing ability. Look at Kenya in the 7s tournaments.

    Also your comment about nobody in europe playing is proved defunct, the likes of Spain, Portugal, Romania, Georgia, France, Italy, Hungary, The Netherlands, Germany, Russia, Czech Republic and Sweeden all play rugby, have good domestic leagues and are improving all the time.

    So how about you get some background knowledge before you stand there slating one of the most inclusive sports in terms of nationallity, ethnicity, ability, physical size and social standing.

  • Comment number 56.

    Wow! Sporting Director, in an effort to somehow justify the millions spent on second rate athletes and therefore keep his very well paid job, makes unreachable medal claims and then we are all surprised?

    Maybe it's the British media or maybe they actually believe what the likes of van Commenee spurt out prior to Championships, but I get the feeling that there is a belief that athletes such as Ennis, Farrah, Idowu et al merely have to turn up to collect their medals with no real need for any effort.

    Perhaps if the Athletes were paid on performance rather than 'potential' we might get a more realistic estimate of their medal hopes?

  • Comment number 57.

    Got to agree with the last post - I don't like how Van Commenee already has "rumours of unrest in the camp" put against him. I am pleased he has high expectations - that is his job.

    The reality is there is so much media being published all we seem able to do is spend weeks prior to events building up expectations, then spend the event itself creating rumour and speculation before having a big public post mortem afterwards.

    I don't think there are big issues other than the ones people in the media want to create to fill up the column inches. I expect a weekend of dragging people over the coals and bemoaning our uselessness on Radio 5, this website and every other sports section going.

    Of course if anyone does get a gold medal for Team GB then they can expect to be on Strictly Come Dancing, every government-endorsed health campaign and the face of some God-awful sugar-based cereal before the Olympics next year.

  • Comment number 58.

    I have been disappointed, but not by the lack of finalists. If you look at the world rankings for this year the only athletes who are ranked in the top 10 in the world are Mo Farah(1), Andy Turner (9), Dai Greene (6), Chris Tomlinson (5), Phillips Idowu (5), Tiffany Porter (5), Perri Shakes-Drayton (8), Holly Bleasdale (9), Goldie Sayers (6), and Jessica Ennis (1).

    What I have been disappointed in is the lack of PBs or even SBs. The only SBs I can see so far is for Martyn Rooney, Steve Lewis, and Yamale Aldama. I accept that the distance races are rarely as fast at Championships as they are at the staged races at Diamond League races, but there are still very disappointing performances; for example all the 100m runners are at least 0.2 seconds below their best this year.

    I personally believe that we could still get the 7 medals, but if you look deeper into the results, then there is not a lot to be cheered about. I don't think that we should be blaming the team management that much either; it seems to me that Van Commensee has little control over how the athletes prepare for these Championships. All he can do is select them, and hope that they have prepared properly.

  • Comment number 59.

    Why is the target seven medals? It looks like Van Commenee has simply looked at the events we are good at and made a reasonable prediction. As such the target is meaningless. The worrying thing to me is the lack of depth in most events. Mo Farah is under pressure because team GB has no other distance runners. I cannot believe that a well nourished nation of 60 million people does not have a few individuals physically capable of running a competitive 10k.

  • Comment number 60.

    When you say, "...were expected to win gold...", by whom were they expected? Is this the expectation of "analysts", aka jingoistic British journalists, whose hopeful speculations we should take as incontrovertible authority?

    I'm asking because where sport is concerned there is no concept of "entitlement to win". Coming second or third doesn't automatically imply under-performance, especially when at world class level all the finalists in any event expect to win. It simply means that the winner performed better.

  • Comment number 61.

    55.At 09:37 31st Aug 2011, Hookers_Do_It_Best wrote:

    "Saying rugby is not a truely international sport is rather ridiculous. There are over 100 registered active nations on the IRB website who play regularly. The cost of participation is cheap too, all you need is posts, a ball, boots and a ref. And you have various formats including 7s, 10s and full 15s, which cater for countries of differing ability. Look at Kenya in the 7s tournaments.

    Also your comment about nobody in europe playing is proved defunct, the likes of Spain, Portugal, Romania, Georgia, France, Italy, Hungary, The Netherlands, Germany, Russia, Czech Republic and Sweeden all play rugby, have good domestic leagues and are improving all the time.

    So how about you get some background knowledge before you stand there slating one of the most inclusive sports in terms of nationallity, ethnicity, ability, physical size and social standing."

    Clearly with "international" I didn't mean that other countries don't play it AT ALL or have never played it or are not official members. I mean that participation is extremely limited, it's not part of their sports culture and tradition at all. Unlike in Britain you won't see in the news or making headlines or people talking about it or playing it regularly for leisure.

    All the countries you mentioned other than France & Italy are nothing short of a joke in relation to rugby, not because they are not very good at it but because they simply don't care about the thing (that's why they cannot compete); it hardly exists on their map or very low in the list of popular sports.

    I could mention baseball or other sports with 100+ associations which aren't exactly "international" at all.

    Yes rugby is more universal than cricket, but in truth it is seriously practised by 10 nations or most of which are British isles or commonwealth.


  • Comment number 62.

    And just one more thing. Who is this "we" people keep mentioning? The "we" I include myself in is the group specifically not at the athletics championships trying to do their best in the competitions. Our contribution, in terms of physical effort, to British athletes' attempts to win medals is zero.

  • Comment number 63.

    to be honest i think the reason why britain is not doing at all weel in track and field at the moment is because of the lack of investment in the sport. Every young athlete aspiring to be an olympian has to deal with the fact that somewhere along the line, money is going to be needed in order to survive, a lot of athletes have to work a job as well as train full time. This is to look after children, keep a roof over their head, food in their belly, as well as covering cost such as travelling fees (abroad and national) physiotherapy, sports massage, insurance and kit. How do people expect these athletes to be able to train to the best of their ability when they have no time to rest and recover for their next training session, how do people expect them to keep their bodies free from injury and in peak condition when they have to provide for something else. This will forever be a problem in britain as athletics is seen as recreational, but when athletes go to world championships they end up getting slaughtered by the media because they are off the pace with the rest of the world. Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany seem to be the only country who have managed to work out a way, that is why we now see Russians, Germans, French, Ukrainians dominating european track and field, and performing miles better that britain on the world stage. They invested, they have young athletes up to their eyeballs in gear and training as soon as they show any talent for any sport, and now they are reaping the benefits. As soon as britain realises that there are other sports other than football and cricket, im afraid british track and field does not bode well.

  • Comment number 64.

    Totally agree with 58 re the lack of PBs etc. All we hear all summer is about how the athletes are preparing for the WCs, well, clearly they're not preparing very well - or they're just saying what they think is the right thing but not doing anything behind it. Now it turns out that next year is the 'big one' of course, funny that.

    The C4 coverage is good and bad at the same time - obviously the continual ad breaks are frustrating, but at least they focus on the action - rather than showing a pre-championship interview with some British 'talent' prior to their failure to get to a final - whenever there is action to be shown without Briitsh involvement in an early round. Iwan Thomas is a joke though, he seems to think every one of our athletes has a "real chance" of making the next round/final then is conspicuously quiet when they fail - Rooney, Jack Green etc.

    7 medals is surely a basecamp target for something greater next year though, and if we can't hit that we are in trouble. We now hear that Farah is going to run the 5k - I wonder if he's been put under pressure to by CVC (not that I'm against that) - and if he gets a medal in that, and we add Greene, Idowu, Meadows and maybe a relay if we don't drop the baton yet again then it won't have been a bad championships, though hardly a good one. Like Backley says, so far though it's been a "shocker".

    Congrats to Farah and Ennis and it's probably better if they get the kick up the rear this year; Turner was lucky, that's not going to happen again next year so that's one medal we won't get again; maybe Radcliffe will come back and grab a similarly 'brave bronze' next year instead though.

  • Comment number 65.

    People are missing an important point, 1 gold medal (which could very well come from Greene, Farah or Idowu) and Britain get catapulted right into joint 4th. If that happens I for one will be very happy to have only the US, Russia and Kenya above us. Joint 4th would be a great result for team GB. Maybe Ennis and Farah should have won gold but take nothing away from their silvers, just hope they can win gold in London next summer.

  • Comment number 66.

    The false starts of Ohourugou and Chambers were symptomatic of athletes knowing they were'nt real contenders and needed quick starts. The only real disappointment in my eyes has been that of Lisa Dobriskey. She is the single worst tactician to have pulled on an international vest since Tom McKean. Every disappointment has the same cheesy-smile apology, at least this time she spared herself (and us) the agony of finishing 4th having started her charge for the line 50 metres late. Van Commenee is not being over-optimistic and goal-setting is essential.

  • Comment number 67.

    #63. Still 4 days left, but with a solitary bronze medal between them so far, France + Ukraine are not exactly "performing miles better that britain on the world stage". Big fat zero for Australia (ideal climate, great facilities, world's greatest competitors etc etc) + Scandinavian nations (often portrayed by UK media as the perfect countries).

  • Comment number 68.

    @ #61 - Nibs - I wasn't trying to start a rugby debate, but as you obviously know nothing about it here are a few things to think about.

    As someone who has played along side spanish, portugese under 21's & under 23's internationals at university I can tell you that these countries don't take it lightly. They provide their best young players with scholarships in the UK, France and Italy.

    Also, in Georgia rugby is so huge, it is verging on a national obsession. The Russian's have a professional league and Romania has a very good domestic set up providing a good national team. These countries will be picking up the pace in the next few years and being very, very competative. Russia vs Georgia in a RWC qualifier had over 5m viewers on TV! Just watch highlights of Georgia vs Ireland from 2007 to see what I mean.

  • Comment number 69.

    We will always be good at Cycling, Rowing, Sailing etc as they are sports that get big coverage. Maybe we need to promote other sports as much as we do these successful ones.

    University athletics doesn't have huge funding or participation and this could be one of our main failings, in USA and Australia it is actively encouraged. Over here it falls by the wayside and that needs to change, where will the next Seb Coe, Steve Cram and Daley Thompsons come from?

    Anyway, a more important issue is the fact that Britain competes in so many different sports that we can't be world beaters in all of them. Perhaps we must just accept that we are good at some sports not at others and be glad that we have the likes of Jessica Ennis, Dai Greene, Jenny Meadows and Mo Farrah.

  • Comment number 70.

    I had very low expectations of our joggers and they've failed to live down to them. They're hopeless and despite Hookers_Do_It_Best's assertions HUGELY over funded. They're arrogant, complacent, directionless and badly led. They have a perfect model for developing their athletes in the success of British Cycling, but they know better - and this is the result.

  • Comment number 71.

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

  • Comment number 72.

    Ohorougu was not a serious medal contender going to Daegu. Her form has been poor all season. Actually, it's been poor since she came back from her ban for missing drugs tests, but no connection there, surely. Predicting medals is crazy. You cannot know how good the opposition will be. You can only perform to your best. We should expect PB's and SB's from these athletes if they are properly prepared. Farah gave it all but wasn't enough.Maybe the 5k will bring gold, but I doubt it, it wasn't the one he made his main focus. Ennis is a real disappointment as three of the 7 events were below expectations. Dobriskey was very poor. Too early to judge the others.

  • Comment number 73.

    A number of countries won't be happy at their athletes perforamces at the world championships but really this is just a warm up event for next year's olympics. The likes of Ennis have been given a big kick up the backside and will come back stronger and more determined next year. I'm looking forward to some amazing performances in 12 months.

  • Comment number 74.

    We may be doing better than France, Italy, Australia et all - but they're not hosting the olympics next year, are they ? If they were, they'd be doing a damn sight better than we currently are.

  • Comment number 75.

    I see some references to Australia's ( non ) performance in some comments here. You may not realise it but athletics ( which I have been involved in and follow ) is a very small sport in Australia with an ever decreasing number of activists. These Championships are on about the 16th most popular TV network ( which exists on cheap usually non English language content ) where they take the world feed ( which is really the GB 2nd feed ) probably for a peppercorn fee. For a while it looked as if they wouldn't be covered at all- and I fear that 99% of people would not notice ( Any medals would be briefly covered in the major networks general sports news but you'd have to win gold for pictures )

    If you're interested I'd say Australians see the sport as one for and dominated by Africans ( and their descendants ), dopers and obsessive compulsive East Europeans ( ie ex commos ) ie something Australians don't , can't or won't relate to . I gather it's different in the UK.

  • Comment number 76.

    67 Australia had 2 gold medal shots in Watt and Pearson who are world number 1 in their events Hooker and Sameuls world champions two years ago were both not in form this year. France will be disapointed about the Pole Vault and with no Teddy in the Triple Jump that was their best gold medal hope gone. Sweden had a golden generation in the early part of the 21st century with Kluft, Holm etc. Not sure about Ukraine

  • Comment number 77.

    I do wonder why there is so much emphasis on the medals and not on the performances of the athletes. For example Mo Farah's performance was brilliant but he didnt win the Gold and this was seen as a dissapointment. In his event that has been dominated by the kenyans and ethiopians for Farah just break that stranglehold is amazing. But even more look at the kenya women in the first two events 1,2 & 3 in both Marathon and 10k, GB athletes arent even close in comparison

  • Comment number 78.

    76. True, Watt + Pearson could well win gold later this week but are in exactly the same situation as Farah + Ennis were (ie no guarantees). As you say, Sweden HAD a golden generation but no sign of ready-made replacements

  • Comment number 79.

    This blog gets off to a poor start right from the title. 7 total medals, of which 1 is gold, does not constitute high expectations, particularly when you consider there were a bare minimum of 3 very good gold prospects in Mo Farah (who may still grab one), Jess Ennis and Philips Idowu in this team. Add in Dai Green, Andy Turner and the relay squads, just off the top of my head, and 7 medals certainly doesn't appear over the top.

    If the athletes are failing to deal with that pressure, how on earth will they cope with an Olympic Games played out in front of a passionate home support looking for gold medals?

  • Comment number 80.

    75. Interesting that Australia dismiss track and field in that way - related at all to their lack of success on the track? What was it like around 2000, with Cathy Freeman?

    Anyway, as for the British team; Farah did what he does, but someone came out of left field to take a shock gold; Ennis narrowly topped her Berlin winning total, but was beaten by one (well, seven) of the best performances of the Games; Ohorougu and Chambers are irrelevant when they're not going to be in London, assuming that is the focus.

    Dobriskey's the individual to be worried about most, because she could be a genuine medal threat but is failing to live up to that mentally and tactically. She's exactly the athlete who CVC needs to be having a spat with, not Idowu.

    The rest? Well, we don't know. Ask me on Sunday night. And I may not have an answer then...

  • Comment number 81.

    @77 ashook69 "I do wonder why there is so much emphasis on the medals and not on the performances of the athletes"

    Because out of Gold Medalists, the British Media can create celebrities who then give them endless column inches and space fillers at major events where we are told how they are 'coping with the attention' and how 'gorgeous their Versace dress is'.

    Rather than celebrating their achievements and focusing on how they intend to keep up or move ahead of the rest, the need to divert some of their energy to their new found celebrity distracts them from what they really should be doing....and in some cases, getting offered more for your wedding pics from a trash rag than you get for training 15 hours a day and micro managing every aspect of your life, might seem a little more appealing!

  • Comment number 82.

    Humidity levels were always going to play a part for some athletes woes in Daegu . However the overall team has so many athletes struggling due to injuries this year. I recall this was the same last year . Ohorugo and Dobriskey are just 2 of those ,and despite past success it was totally unrealistic to expect them to perform well. The secret of success is to be injury free , and improve year on year. Lets also not forget a good performance in one off competitions does not make a world champion.
    GB has only a few world class athletes presently, Dai , Jess ,Phillips and Mo . None are gauranteed a gold medal. Plus theres others with good chances Jenny and Goldie .
    Then theres encouraging up and comers , Sophie Hitchon (hammer ) Holly Bleasdale (pole vault ) Jodie Williams (100m) Brett Morse and Lawrence Oyonie (discus) Nathan Woodward and Jack Green (400mH).Probably 2012 will be too early for these to break through .
    Add those to the list of absentees .Paula Radcliffe,Mara Yamaguchi , Jo Pavey, Steph Twell ..and a few others I cannot think of right now ,there is certainly enough talent to produce better results next year . Please let them all be injury free !!!

  • Comment number 83.

    Have noticed a few comments on here that the 7 medals taget with at least 1 gold is not very high. What do people actually expect?

    If you go back to the so called golden age of the 80s & 90s you will find (with the exception of the boycotted Olympics which helped inflate our medal standings) that 7 or 8 medals with 1 or 2 golds is about as good as it got, the only exception being the 1993 Worlds with 10 medals & 3 golds.

  • Comment number 84.

    It seems to me that it is articles like this and comments like those by Van Commenee which will put too much pressure on UK athletes in 2012. Most countries will allow their competitors to enjoy the competition and the best can perform at their best and the half decent inspired to outperform to expectations. No doubt we will have lists all over the media of those expected to medal in London with public villification when they fall short. Enjoy the spectacle, love the sport and remember the effort these guys make to get where they are!

  • Comment number 85.

    47.At 01:34 31st Aug 2011, nibs wrote:

    Britain has had some success either at sports with very limited participation & following such as cricket and rugby, or at elitist "rich" sports like sailing or golf, or at sports where equipment -or team- can give a performance advantage eg. motorsport bobsleigh cycling rowing etc


    Me thinketh you tryeth too hard to disguise your anti-GB agenda Nibs...

    With regards to Formula 1 there are plenty of countrys richer than Britain...Switzerland for example have thrown hundreds of millions at Formula 1 and have had no success whatsoever...unless you count Jo Siffert and at a pussh I will give you it is certainly not about equipment only.

    Rugby, not popular?...dont make me laugh..the coming world cup will be the 3rd biggest sporting event after the olympics and the Wendyball world cup ,viewed by millions on tv.. Rugby is played in 140 countries and the the reason the Germans, Spanish, Russians et-al dont shout about is because they are err..crap...

    And as for boxing, wonder what you think about the amount of world champions Britain has had, far more than our European it bigger gloves perhaps?...or is it that they are just that little bit more harder than for example the perfumed Iberians lol.

  • Comment number 86.


  • Comment number 87.

    I really do not know what prompted UK athletics to think that Mo Farah could win gold in the 10,000 meters. Yes he might have the best time in the world this year, but as we all know major championships are a whole different kettle of fish and such things are thrown out of the window. As for the 800, forget about Jenny Meadows winning gold, that is the preserve of Janeth Jepkosgei, and I am not just saying that because I am a Kenyan, but she is out and out the best in that event. These championships are a great advertisement for the sport, so far, Bolt getting DQ in the 100 James winning the 400 and a new Ethiopian on the block.

  • Comment number 88.

    Careful Fed_Borg, you're starting to sound like an arrogant Kenyan!

  • Comment number 89.

    Typical "Bond" journalism.Just wait and see what happens next year.

  • Comment number 90.

    The focus of this article appears to highlight that UKA have an expectation of their ath's to bring in a modest haul of medals. As a UK organisation its expectation is fuelled by public expectation and informed judgement by coaches and professionals that surround the sport. But they do get it wrong from time to time as that is the nature of all sport. Even Arsenal can be beat 8 - 2!

    That public expectation is "stoked" by the UK press and if you take the example of MF, press reporting was effectively stating that he was a "shoe-in" for the Gold as far back as his PB 10k run in the US Meet and certainly by the DL meet in London. The result is that the first WC silver medal is given no value and elude that MF did not meet the "expectation". We have no expectation at 10k as we have never regularly won a medal at 10k so in effect we should celebrate the fact that we did that!

    To be fair on the press UKA they sent out ath's that are not capable of contesting events at WC due to current form and fitness and by doing that have possible hindered rather than helped the ath's in question by exposing them to the overly hyped expecation machine.

    See Rimmer, Dobriskey, Ohuruogu who were basically not fit or on form and you have to then ask the wisdom of their coaches for them to be placed on the team and then dumped out before finals. In the case of CO she would likely not made the final on current form. Rimmer and Dobriskey were lacking speed endurance at the UK trials and should have had the season over signs up then and started their break and prep for a "big" year in 2012. Madness personified in these examples.

    Expectation is a UK issue and needs to be quickly addressed Press/UKA/Coaching as Inaccurate Expecation is worse than too much of it.

    UK wise World Cups and England!

    JM runs the 800m as having the 13th best time of the season so expectation should be related to current form so if she manages a medal it should be well done so lets all watch and wait and see the reaction.

    Rose tinted glasses and all that!

    get it?

  • Comment number 91.

    #87 fed_borg
    "I really do not know what prompted UK athletics to think that Mo Farah could win the gold in the 10,000 metres."
    Yeah you do, because as you said, he was the fastest man in the world this year and got beaten by just the one competitor in the last few metres, why wouldn't they think he could win it and what else were they supposed to think? "Oh! We know he's the fastest man in the world but we know he can only come second" DOH! Still as you are Kenyan and have absolutely nothing else to sing about, you can have your little tweet.

  • Comment number 92.

    Jenny Meadows has won medals at the last 4 championships she's competed in so she has acquired a good habit and I think she'll add to it here. These championships have shown with so many favourites/champions not winning that anything can happen. The 800m is a wide open event - Savinova is my tip to win but I wouldn't be that shocked to see Jenny win.

  • Comment number 93.

    #85 confiseur
    Yes, I was going to post something about boxing myself, Lennox Lewis, David Haye, Ricky Hatton, Chris Eubank, Lloyd Honeyghan and the list goes on, but did you know that the British are the creme de la creme at Tae-Kwon-Do as well, have a butchers at this
    Always be wary of someone who hides his nationality but slates someone elses, I don't think 'nibs' is Iberian, his English is 'native' imo and I make Irish the short price fav.

  • Comment number 94.

    I love athletics but every time I watch the GB athletics team now, I'm disappointed. There seems to be the same people competing that have been in the team for ages and they're not getting any better or they're past it. Why are people competing here when they are so obviously not fit ( Ohourugou)or injured (Rimmer)? Also Chambers...words fail me!

  • Comment number 95.

    Never lower your standards just because you failed to meet an expectation - learn, move on, and now go home and work harder.

  • Comment number 96.

    What an utter non story..right up there with the fabled 'small earthquake in Chile, non one injured' In effect its saying that some might regard the performance of UK athletes as a bit disappointing, but then again maybe not! Also its a bit early to be sure. Riveting! Truth is the same old story is trotted out at every world /Olympic championships. Sometimes we do a bit better than expectations, someimes a bit worse. Not exactly front page news is it? Even our period of greatest success (roughly 1979-1993) coincided, in part with 2 Olympics affected by major boycotts(1980 and 1984) We are relatively strong in European terms, and average on a World stage. Of course we'd like to be that bit more successful, but anyone who thinks we should be winning (say) 15/16 medals has no real knowledge of the credibility of this . Sure, focus , post Worlds on clear areas of weakness/decline(sprints/most field events etc)but right now this is all premature nd pointless.

  • Comment number 97.

    Can people please stop mentioning Ohurugu and Chambers. Neither of them would have got close to the final and I think Chambers is finished for good, especially with him not being eligible for 2012. Dobriskey is a different kettle of fish but she has had 2 badly injury hit years and for those who are critiscising the way she talks she's a shy girl and thats just her personality I'm afraid. I doubt they were saying the same when she won a silver medal 2 years ago. I do however share the view that her tactics are questionable. She has a good sprint finish so at least needs to try and get into a position to use it!
    Anyway, Mo has declared himself fit for the 5000m so as well as him we have medal hopes to come in Meadows, Greene, Idowu and maybe Tiffany Porter (admit that one may be a long shot!).
    Don't despair just yet!

  • Comment number 98.

    I have to say that this negativity is way over the top, and very very British....

    Yes, Ohouroghu was a total disaster (she wouldn't have got anywhere near the medals had she made it through the heat anyway....) and Dobriskey has come nowhere near regaining her form of a couple of years back. But for Andy Turner to get a bronze, beating David Oliver in the process, is a great result that we should celebrate and Farah and Ennis will be back hunting gold at London 2012.

    For the rest of the Championships, you seem to be overlooking Dai Greene, who looks nailed-on for a medal in the 400m, Jenny Meadows who should also get on the podium in the 800m, Philips Idowu who has a great chance of gold, Mo going again in the 5000m, Greg Rutherford and Chris Tomlinson in the long jump, Tiffany Porter in the 100m hurdles, and we should also have a chance of a medal in the mens 100m relay and possibly mens' and womens' 4x400m too.

    If less than half of those come through with a medal, then Van Commenee's target will have been met. There's then the young athletes coming through who should all progress over the next few years - Jodie Williams, Perri Shakes-Drayton, Holly Bleasdale, Hannah England - and the likes of Rimmer, Dobriskey and Paula Radcliffe hopefully coming back into form, and things don't look too shabby for the Olympics.

    Get a grip guys - let's not get too hung up on Ohorougu and Chambers false-starting and Ennis and Farah putting in great performances that weren't quite good enough on the day....

  • Comment number 99.

    It should be noted that with the millions spent by UKA and the billions to be spent on the games next year some of our athletes are not funded and owe nobody anything.

    I know at least one participant in Deagu who has the Olympic A standard is not funded and works part-time. Repeated request by their coach for assistance with travel expenses have been ignored.

  • Comment number 100.

    So what's actually happened? Well, Farah got beaten by a bit of a bolt from the blue on the day. Ennis exceeded her 2009 points tally but got beaten by another unexpectedly good performance. Ohuruogu came along in dreadful form, with almost no chance of getting through her heat, to the point that she felt she needed to pinch a couple of tenths by outperforming on the start and got dq'd. And neither the 7-medal tally nor the 1 gold target (Idowu) is actually out of reach?

    So nothing has really happened, then?


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