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GB athletes on target?

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Tom Fordyce | 08:04 UK time, Monday, 5 September 2011

Charles van Commenee's talk of a "golden generation" to match that of Seb Coe, Steve Cram and Daley Thompson raised expectations that the team could leave the World Championships in Daegu with its best medal haul in a generation.

As the team flew back to London on Monday's early afternoon flight from Seoul, had the Dutchman's expectations been fulfilled? With less than 12 months to go until the London Olympics, just how good a display was this from the British team?

We'll dig deep in this analysis but first the simple stuff.

The final-day gold from Mo Farah and silver from Phillips Idowu meant there were seven medals nestled in the squad's hand luggage, in line with the "seven or eight" the straight-talking Van Commenee had set as his target.

It's a clear improvement on recent history: one medal more than was won in Berlin two years ago, comfortably surpassing the five of 2007, three from 2005 and 2003, and two of 2001.

Berlin represented Britain's best medal haul since 1999 and left them eighth in the final medal table. Here in Korea, once again with two golds, they moved up to sixth.

When you factor in the three remarkable performances that pushed three British athletes down into silver - Ibrahim Jeilan's sub-53 second last lap to defeat Farah in the 10,000m, Tatyana Chernova's sequence of personal bests and huge overall PB to dethrone Jess Ennis in the heptathlon, Christian Taylor's unprecedented 17.96m to deny Idowu triple jump gold - the picture could have looked even prettier.

Then again, it rather depends on the perspective you choose to take.

Mo Farah flew the flag for GB in the 5000m final and brought home the gold medal. Photo: Reuters

Athletics statisticians use a simple points system to analyse a team's performance at these big global championships. One point is awarded to an athlete who finishes eighth in their final, two for seventh and three for sixth, all the way up to eight for a first place.

On that basis, Britain scored a total of 34 points in Helsinki six years ago.

At the 2007 Worlds in Osaka, the tally was better: 61. In Berlin, it rose still further, to 80.5 (half points are awarded in the event of a tied place).

The Daegu total? 60. Of 36 individual finals across both men's and women's competition, there were British representatives in just 10.

In men's track events, Britain had no representative in the final of any event from 100m up to 1500m. Had it not been for the hurdlers - Dai Greene's gold medal in the 400m and a bronze for Andy Turner in the 110m - and Mo Farah, the absenteeism would have become embarrassing.

It was as bad on the women's side. There were no British finalists in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m, with the latter a particular disappointment.

Hannah England in the 1500m, Helen Clitheroe in the 5,000m and recently naturalised Tiffany Porter were the only British women to make any track final.

"Of that group of athletes that should be close to the medals," admitted Van Commenee, "a good number have underperformed."

In Berlin two summers ago, 11 of Van Commenee's athletes produced personal bests. In Daegu, that number fell through the floor - only Porter and 200m runner Aniyka Onuora delivered PBs when it mattered most.

There are logical reasons for this. Times and distances were down across the board, the windy conditions at the Daegu National Stadium meaning that only three championship records were recorded across all events and only one world record - the Jamaican men's 4x100m blistering relay display in the very last event of the nine days.

Jessica Ennis suffered agonising defeat in the heptathlon after a disappointing javelin performance. Photo: PA

Equally, Van Commenee knows that he will return to his desk at Lee Valley high-performance centre with something of a headache and limited time to cure it. In public, he remains bullish. In private, he may not be quite so chipper.

"When we hit the target, I'm very happy," he told BBC Radio 5 live. "There are disappointments but if two and a half years ago I could predict we would have seven medals I would have been very happy with that.

"I have to be alert but I'm always alert. I go home as a satisfied head coach. I know work has to be done but we knew that. We knew this is not the Olympic Games. We need 11 months and we'll use them."

What of the championships as a whole? This was a Worlds when old champions were deposed, bright new talents installed.

Kenenisa Bekele, Steve Hooker, Andreas Thorkildsen, Blanca Vlasic and Sanya Richards-Ross were all deposed.

In their place, young stars like David Rudisha, Kirani James and Sally Pearson took their first global titles. Pearson produced the single most impressive performance of the event with her wonderful 100m hurdles gold, Rudisha possibly the most dominant.

Purists allowed themselves a little cheer as those athletes returning from drug bans - Justin Gatlin, Leshawn Merritt - failed to win back world titles in their individual disciplines.

Performances in general indicated that the battle against doping may be taking a decisive turn for the better.

For friendliness and efficiency, Daegu rated highly. For attendances and atmosphere, it was rather more disappointing.

Organisers insisted to the end that an average of 90% of tickets were sold per day but that was to ignore the enormous swathes of seats covered with tarpaulins and the evidence of our own eyes.

If punters did turn up, often they were local school children bussed in en masse. By the time the big finals came round at the end of the evening sessions, many of those who had turned up had already made their way home.

"Why Daegu?"

It was a question many of us asked on arrival. A truly satisfactory answer was never quite found. At the centre of it all stood the greatest athlete of his era, Usain Bolt. When he ran, he was once again remarkable. When he didn't, it was almost more extraordinary.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Your point about perspective is a good one. Yes, things could have been better but GB'S position in placing table was still in top six and above France, China and Australia.
    In spite of evident deficiencies in the GB teams performance surely top six finishes in both medal and placing table is something to celebrate not least as a basis for further progress.

  • Comment number 2.

    You forgot to mention that one of our medallists had his funding taken away
    from him due to the fact that the governing bodies doubted his chances of a
    medal. That's confidence for you and a hell of a mistake when it comes to judging
    an athlete's potential. Who are these decision makers anyway. Please name them

  • Comment number 3.

    No mention about the absurd disqualification rule which would have slowed down sprinters, even 400m runners and hurdlers. Anyway what is so bad about being second in the world. Even 6th or 8th is something too be proud of.

  • Comment number 4.


    In the run-up to 2012 the public perspective I believe is very different to that of the of CvC & the GB athletes. I think many of the public expect our athletes to be hitting PBs and making finals away from home and that come London the home support to propel our competitors to new heights. But the Olympics motivates every body.

    Our athletes will obviously want progress, PBs and medals but will also want to avoid any concerns over 'peaking too soon' with a home event looming. We have seen pluses and minuses in all areas.

    Missing out on an early Gold in Daegu put pressure on the team, maybe the scheduling of event in London could motivate with an early Gold?

  • Comment number 5.

    Excellent blog Tom. Finally a journo who is willing to be realistic about a British performance. We could have got five golds, perhaps should have got four. Having said that, this has laid down the foundations for a big improvement for London. Roll on 2012.

  • Comment number 6.

    Let's stop all this nonsense about medal tables and "team points" once and for all shall we? Other than the relays there ARE no team events in athletics. Performances are INDIVIDUAL and we should thus judge them seperately.

    Van Comminee's guess was 7 or 8, we got 7, but that is not the point, we need to know which athletes were the 7 or 8 he suggested, which of them did not perform and which overachieved in his eyes.

    He should have the guts to name names, to predict placings and to then hold athletes to account for not matching their potential if they fail to achieve and equally praise those who overachieve.

  • Comment number 7.

    Why Daegu? Because there aren't that many things they can do with a stadium that size once the 2002 football world cup had left town. Their local football team attracts less than 2,000 people and is better off in the smaller more convenient stadium near the city centre.

  • Comment number 8.

    Why do we keep beating ourselves up about the team performances at World Champs? If you read the track and field magazine, the rest of the world laugh at our continuing need to self-harm ourself on team results at every championship.

    We met expectations and the signs are good for next year- period!

  • Comment number 9.

    Tom, I think you should really try and find the answer to the question - Why Daegu?

  • Comment number 10.

    In moderation - TWO gold medals in an entire world championships is not something to shout about.

  • Comment number 11.

    I think more worryingly and oddly is the belief that it is 'good news' that Phillips Idowu and Jessica Ennis were beaten by outstanding performances beyond their personal best.
    To me this is bad news especially in the case of Phillips whose personal best is now behind 3 of his competitors. I accept that he has been the most consistent but how on earth is he suddenly going to find another 30 cm when he has been training presumably at his maximum for 15 years and has not improved that much in the last 10.

    Ennis is still improving but again her personal best would not have been enough. That suggests that far from being the 'favourite' she isn't. The Russian is improving quicker than her and is already better.

    I am not trying to be negative, nor devalue the amazing achievement of Silver medals but it is irritating how people do not look at the true facts of the situation.

    It is very unlikely we will achieve more than one Gold at the Olympics in athletics and it is about time people learned to live with that expectation.

  • Comment number 12.

    Good piece and fills in some of the gaps left by what we got to see of the woeful TV coverage in between all the ads, but you forgot Emma Jackson in the womens 800m - I'm pretty sure she also got a PB.

    You could also have mentioned that one of our medals was only won by default (ie another athletes DQ) and that Mo Farahs rise to the summit would seem to have very little to do with UKA - he was always a good European standard distance runner but it was only when he first trained with the Kenyans and then subsequently moved to America to train under an American coach that he became a world beater. First British male to win a world distance title he may be but this is not something Van Commenee etc can take the credit for.

    And are we STILL spending a small fortune on our sprint relay team? If so why - there's a piece in itself. Besides the fact that the training clearly continues not to work it can only be justified if we have athletes sufficiently fast enough to merit the potential small time gain that such investment could bring. At the moment we don't and the money would be better spent on investment in the more European friendly field events.

  • Comment number 13.

    3.At 10:38 5th Sep 2011, dussalaamj wrote:
    No mention about the absurd disqualification rule which would have slowed down sprinters, even 400m runners and hurdlers. Anyway what is so bad about being second in the world. Even 6th or 8th is something too be proud of.


    This is getting ridiculous now. Of course the new false start rule doesn't make a difference to start times! Why would it? The reaction times are as fast as they've always been, check the IAAF website for some comparisons.

  • Comment number 14.

    @ #6 I'm sure CVC has spoken to each athlete and told them what he expects but he doesn't like to do that in the public eye - many of the British athletes at previous championships have spoken about him doing this and I personally agree with this approach rather than a public naming (and potential shaming) of athletes which would do nothing more than negatively affect moral in the team.

    I was disappointed we finished with only 2 golds but without amazing personal performances from two athletes we would have had 2 more (Ennis and Idowu can consider themselves unfortunate that their competitors made such giant leaps forward) and Mo Farah has acknowledged he made a tactical error which cost him gold in the 10k. So we could have had five and should be positive about the olympics next year.

    A lack of finalists in other events is more of a concern but I think we have 2 or 3 prospects who weren't at the championships who could make big leaps forward over the next few years such as Jodie Williams and Okoye and Morse in the discuss. We may never be able to top the medal tables at events such as these but the future is not all doom and gloom!

  • Comment number 15.

    The usual statistical inquest!
    Am I really alone in enjoying athletics for it's own sake. Yes I want GB athletes to do well but my enjoyment of the events is not dependent on it. I wanted Mo to win the 10k but Jeilan's victory was one of the 3 or 4 stand out moments of the games for me, along with Abakumova and Spotakova in the womens Javelin, Pearson's amazing performance in all 3 rounds of the 100m hurdles and Mo's win in the 5k.
    My fear for London next year is this. Any perceived underperformance by GB athletes early on will lead Journo's to start writing negative stories which will then influence the general public's mood and enjoyment of the games. My dream; that we can celebrate great performances by anyone, admire the sheer guts and determination of virtually everyone who competes, revel in the privilege of having it happening right here at home and generally host the games in an enthusiastic and celebratory manner leading to an Olympics that athletes and fans alike will remember for years to come! (Whether or not we hit our medal targets!!!!)
    Tom, you journalists have a grave responsibility in making and allowing this to happen, you can help ensure next year is a wonderful event if you don't allow a few underperforming athletes to sour your coverage of next years games, please remember this when the time comes, thank you.

  • Comment number 16.

    Typical journalist again. Knocking our competitors even though they are amongst the world's top-rated. As a writer you wouldn't get into the world's top one-hundred-thousand so give support and credit to our sports-people who get to compete at world-level.

  • Comment number 17.

    #8 That's a bit of a daft comment ... you're obviously neither an athlete or a coach. Reflection on (& evaluation of) performance is key for improvement.

    Tom's excellent article hits things right on the nail .....

    The medal successes mask the worrying lack of depth. UK Athletics has had a poor return from its investment, partly due to UK Athletics' mis-management. Too many of the athletes on funding appear to have lost motivation, desire etc. ... the men's sprinters (100m through to 400m) being prime examples!

    Interesting that most of the medallists train with the non UK funded coaches ... Mo's now even working with a coach outside the UK altogether.

    One can only hope that many of our younger athletes will aim higher than mere participation @ next year's Olympics .... the future hope lies with the likes of Lawrence Okyo (Discus), Holly Bleasdale (Pole Vault), & Jodie Williams (100m/200m) .... let's hope they do not become complacement with increased funding.

    & a final thought ..... Andy Turner made huge improvements when he lost his UK funding 2 years ago .... maybe a similar shock to a number of our underperforming athletes might well be in order.

  • Comment number 18.

    11.At 11:16 5th Sep 2011, stevieeng34 wrote:
    I think more worryingly and oddly is the belief that it is 'good news' that Phillips Idowu and Jessica Ennis were beaten by outstanding performances beyond their personal best.
    To me this is bad news especially in the case of Phillips whose personal best is now behind 3 of his competitors. I accept that he has been the most consistent but how on earth is he suddenly going to find another 30 cm when he has been training presumably at his maximum for 15 years and has not improved that much in the last 10.

    Ennis is still improving but again her personal best would not have been enough. That suggests that far from being the 'favourite' she isn't. The Russian is improving quicker than her and is already better.

    I am not trying to be negative, nor devalue the amazing achievement of Silver medals but it is irritating how people do not look at the true facts of the situation.

    It is very unlikely we will achieve more than one Gold at the Olympics in athletics and it is about time people learned to live with that expectation.


    A few things.

    About Phillips Idowu, I know consistency doesn't win competitions but in this case, I believe it should be noted that his average jump of 17.56m across all six jumps (yes, that's average) was the longest ever. It was an outstanding performance. Triple jump is one of those events where if you can get it right just once, then you could jump huge. And Idowu is one of those jumpers. His last two jumps were far from perfect but they were still very long. There's no reason to doubt him nor write him off, seeing as he is a very good championship performer and can definitely jump longer.

    As for Ennis, it's you that needs to look at the bigger picture. Why talk about her overall personal best when you should be looking at the personal bests of each event. If she'd just made her personal best in the javelin, then she'd have won the competition and smashed her overall PB too, so she's got it in her. Also consider that she usually wins 3 of the first 4 events, but she underperformed and only won one. I can't see her making the same mistake next year, and already make her favourite for gold. Her preparation for these games will mean that no stone is left unturned. Her consistency in the last three years now suggests she's not a one-summer wonder, something the Russian girl has yet to prove.

    There's not much reason to be negative about the atheltics going into next year, because the Olympics is all%2

  • Comment number 19.

    A matter of perspective Tom ? And why is it that British Journo's like yourself love to take a negative perspective. I guess saying nice things doesn't fill cloumn space.

    We finished 6th which aside from the 5 countries ahead of GB makes us the envy of the rest of the world...........sadly, not good enough for our Tom.

    Do you expect us to be the best in everything we do ? Do we have a divine right to be the best in everything ? I think not. All we can do is try our best.

    Sadly the poison that is the British media has nothing but scorn to pour on the achievements of British sport.

    Shame on you.

    Congratulations Team GB for a great showing in Daegu and roll on London 2012 where the public will be behind you apart from the journalists, hoping and praying for failure so they can stick their knives in.

  • Comment number 20.

    good blog - british athletes did ok channel 4 did ok pity not on bbc considering 2012 and overall feel - pity we never remind ourselves we are a small island shouldnt expect 10 medals+ but jamaica get ? medals u wonder just a glory age-? like ours in the seb coe days ???worries me that olympics coming athletics biggest draw i would say and to be honest we more concerned with jedward and keri katona sadly if world champs dont matter olympics not that different espec for londoners without work its only a game ????although millions spent on it ??

  • Comment number 21.

    The team ethic seems to work.In public at least.
    Granted,most athletes are well versed in the media training required to keep the rat pack off their back.This will aid them in allowing themselves not to be distracted by silly pagefillers.
    However,whilst athletics is a sport primarily for individuals,if a concept of 'team' assists any performer,why not? As the supermarket quite rightly quotes.'Every little helps'.
    As to overall performance,you really can't count the ones who just missed out.That is an exercise in 'just' getting one number wrong in the lottery,or 'If only I hadn't sent that text!'.A win is a win,a loss is a loss.It will happen in every championship.
    I'm happy that as a nation we take sport seriously now.For years,those Aussie loudmouths have benefitted from concentrating on minority sports and investing along the lines of the old east European squads(Which I believe they decided to do after the disaster of '76).They waffle on about being a 'spoty nation'.Absolute garbage!
    We are now understanding what is needed and thus winning where we should win.The PR value should not be underestimated.Franco knew this-hence Real Madrid.Winning is good and it's contagious.Cycles certainly happen but if you oil the mechanism it comes around a lot quicker.

  • Comment number 22.

    Hear hear bangkokblue; well done Team GB. We're always so good at point out the negatives and rubbish at bigging up the positives.

    Just one point to the 'knowledgable' on here; I'm only a mere armchair fan of athletics now but would love to know if it's only me that noticed Idowas 1st and 2nd phases of his jump are excellent but seem to be let down by the 3rd phase!

  • Comment number 23.

    a long step(phase2) loses momentum for phase3(the jump). The more speed you retain going into phase 3 the further you can jump. it's a balancing act.

  • Comment number 24.

    I actually liked this article - maybe I'm the only one on this evidence, but it did seem nuanced to me. It pointed out the lack of strength in depth, and also how it took three of the outstanding performances of the championships to prevent an unprecedented five GB golds.

    The concern for me is the disappointing results from the athletes in their early 20s who were doubtless the recipients of targeted funding since 2005. Combined with Farah's progress since decamping to Oregon, and one of the medallists being someone who had lost funding, and you might be getting a persuasive case for significant funding cuts post-2012.

    But above all, the take-home message from Daegu is that athletics is utterly, gloriously unpredictable, and casual viewers of London 2012 should try and toss the nationalism aside a little bit and embrace the moment. Maybe I'm a hopelessly idealistic global citizen, but that to me is what sport is about...

  • Comment number 25.

    If GB and NI's medal tally papered over the cracks, this blog-post could maybe use a couple of tubs of spackling paste.

    'The Daegu total? 60.'

    By my maths, the actual 2011 tally was 70 (note: the medalists alone account for 50 of these).

    'Had it not been for the hurdlers - Dai Greene's gold medal in the 400m and a bronze for Andy Turner in the 110m - and Mo Farah, the absenteeism would have become embarrassing.'

    If you ignore the events we did well in and only look at those we didn't, it would have been an embarrassment - this is the same for every other country though.

    If GB & NI had performed well in the sprints but not in the jumps, would that also have been significant? Or the throws but not the hurdles? Or the 8 and 15 but not the 5 and 10?

    It wasn't too long ago that I was reading about GB & NI's failings in the mid-to-long distances as an indicator of their decline. Now that is forgotten and we highlight another group of events. I think people need to realise that we're a relatively small country, and we should EXPECT year-to-year improvements in some events or groups of events and decline in others. Can anybody pin-point a major championship where we can't see a dearth of good performances in a group of events?

    'Of 36 individual finals across both men's and women's competition, there were British representatives in just 10.'

    I count 14, not including the marathons and heptathlon (for the men, the 5,000 and 10,000, both hurdles, long and triple jumps, pole vault and discus; for the women, the 1,500 and 5,000, 100 hurdles, steeplechase, triple jump and javelin); or 13, if you also exclude the straight-to-final men's 10,000.

    I don't see anybody lauding the overall performance at these championships, only recognising some real progress and good signs for the future. It's been many years since GB & NI have challenged for gold in so many events. On the flip-side, there were numerous disappointments and under-achievements. However, on balance, an encouraging championships and I disagree with title of this bog-post.

  • Comment number 26.

    Small correction re points total, Tom - IAAF website gives GB 70pts, not 60, but I agree with you that there were not enough GB finalists in Daegu.
    Barring injury/illness, Jess + Phillips will contend for gold in London + I'd put more money on them than Cernova + Taylor who will either prove to be one-hit wonders or all-time greats. There will also be other threats, especially from Tamgho in the triple jump.
    Good to hear CvC criticising the relay teams because there are definitely medals to be won there, particularly in the men's events. France, St Kitts + S.Africa took advantage this time + GB needs to get it right in London!

  • Comment number 27.

    "Had it not been for the hurdlers - Dai Greene's gold medal in the 400m and a bronze for Andy Turner in the 110m - and Mo Farah, the absenteeism would have become embarrassing."

    Yes, if it hadn't been for out athletes winning medals, we wouldn't have won any medals at all.

    And athletics statisticians using a points system? Utter nonsense. Athletics is about medals.

    The only real GB disappointment at these championships has been some of the absolute garbage that has been written about them on the BBC site.

    Our athletes won 7 medals, including 2 golds. Well done to them and good luck next year.

  • Comment number 28.

    Some people on here are disappointed by Britain 'only' winning 2 gold medals. The maximum we have ever won at a world champs is 3 and that was only once in 1993. Some people's expectation's are too high - the whole world competes in athletics with the likes of Botswana and St Kitts & Nevis winning medals.

    Overall a good performance though a few more finalists would have been better.

  • Comment number 29.

    I think Steve's point re Ennis is spot on. Having seen Chernova live on a few occassions, her potential in all 7 events is as yet untapped. I think Jess will win in London and silver in Daegu will be the timely reminder she needed. Jess can go quicker in the hurdles, her High Jump was her worst performance for many many years and obviously the javeline was a huge let down.

    Chernova has reminded us all that we cannot hang golds around anyones knecks.

    Our relay performances were dire. Even the womens 4 by 400 as christine only ran a 52 leg. yes even with a to be expected 50.5 from her they would have finished fourth and she was impeded but still 52 is not an acceptable split.

    Lets hope the whole team can build on the gree shoots of recovery we have seen in the last few years. Im tipping Jemma Simpson to have a big year next year.

  • Comment number 30.

    Christine Ohuruogu is a joke athlete these days. Looks so unfit, overweight and slow.

  • Comment number 31.

    Tiger Rose - We could have had 5 golds so I was disappointed we 'only' won 2 because I was watching the three events where we narrowly missed out on gold and thats what disappointed me as I wanted us to be successful. I'm not disappointed with the overall medal tally or the performance of our athletes which was positive and bodes well for the future

  • Comment number 32.

    2 Golds...



  • Comment number 33.

    #6. What do you think is the Director's role in UK athletics? I don't think that he has a crystal ball, do you? If he did he'd be playing the National Lottery! If he starts making specific predictions then you'd be getting on his case for making mistakes if he gets them wrong. For example, who'd guess that Idowu would jump 17.77m with Tamgho absent and STILL finish second? Nobody could have predicted that - and yet that result meant that we did not match our best ever haul of three golds (in '93)!

  • Comment number 34.

    #27 - "Yes, if it hadn't been for out athletes winning medals, we wouldn't have won any medals at all."

    That is one of the funniest and truest things ever written on these blogs - and it's not surprising that it wasn't written by the 'journalist'.

    I'm with #24, though - I actually quite liked this blog, I thought it was quite balanced. More than anything it restored my sanity after the breathtaking hypocrisy of Mr D Bond who clearly doesn't know what he's talking about.

    However, I think we all fall into the trap of setting standards and then making judgements about performances without really working out why any of it really matters. OK, so athlete A has been given x amount of funding but was denied a medal/title by an outstanding performance on the day by one of the other billions of people on this earth - why do we have to make that out to be a scandal?

    I agree with #8 - other countries wish their athletes the best, laud the success stories and largely sympathise with the disappointments. In this country, the media says "perform or else", play down the winners as freakish exceptions to the rule and lay into those who let themselves down and everyone who's supposedly responsible.

    It's not just athletics - look at the England football team. Why do we pretend that our "heritage", blah-blah, etc etc means we should always be brilliant at everything? We're consistently incredibly successful at a huge range of sports, given our size, population, wealth... and climate.

    Finally - to those who say Mo Farah 'only' won because he trains in America... this guy came to our country as a boy having fled civil war and we allowed him to grow into a fit, strong, healthy and actually quite intelligent and eloquent man who was then in a position to take his family overseas to find the right coach and the right facilities and conditions to become the best. We should be proud of his story, not embarrassed by it. But let's not shoot him down if his and Lagat's roles are reversed next year. It's sport.

  • Comment number 35.

    In addition to GB's underwhelming gold medal haul and finals placings pre 2012 and in relation to official predictions (, a crucial fact that hasn't been mentioned and a reason for the disappointment behind the scenes is that two out of the seven medals were undeserved, having resulted not from superior performance but from one-off misfortunes to others.

    Turner won bronze because the winner got disqualified (he also claimed the position on the photo-finish and a couple of athletes stumbled on the hurdles). On pace he had only qualified as a fastest loser (2nd slowest, 7th out of 8 overall).

    England won silver because the favourite and another athlete fell over and two of the favourites got hampered as a result. On pace she had only qualified as a fastest loser (2nd slowest, 11th out of 12 overall).

    People will say "oh such things are common place and part of athletics", but other than the above the only other aberrations I can recall are the men's 100m and 4x100, whilst GB's genuine medal hopes did not suffer any misfortune themselves.

    Therefore, performance-wise, GB effectively merited FIVE medals. No disrespect at all to these athletes who punched way above their weight, but the other two medals were, simply put, a FLUKE, in all likelihood they will not be repeated, and were not an accurate measure of ability whatsoever.


  • Comment number 36.

    Team GB & NI is made up of 4 countries, and to my own calculation did well in these games. Pepole may be complaining that some underperformed, but do these same people not see other countries which under-performed as well? Track & Field is for the fit & talented athletes the world over. It is very very competitive.
    I would say this world championships was a failure with only 1 world record broken, but i would be very wrong to make such a conclusion. All the athletes did all they could at this time to give their very best performance so i am in no position to judge their results, which should as well be the position of any journalist or fan. We should be in congratulatory mode for all the participants as well as those who got medals. We as fans should be grateful that this championship is less blighted with drug cheats as it was in the past and the competition is much fairer. For me, this is what counts: Fair competition

  • Comment number 37.

    I agree with Furnicle and Noel. (#25 and #27)

    "If you ignore the events we did well in and only look at those we didn't, it would have been an embarrassment " Well, that's what the BBC's cheif sports writer did.

    This is what he would have written if he was Jamaican:

    " In the field events, men and women, Jamaica had no representatives in the final.

    "It was even worse in the track events: we had just 2 competitors in distances from 400m to 10 000m. Had it not been for the sprinters - Bolt, Blake, Campbell-Brown - the absenteeism would have become embarrassing."

    What ridiculous, negative reporting from Mr Fordyce

  • Comment number 38.

    Steven Lewis in the Men's Pole Vault jumped his SB for 9th. Yamile Aldama, at the age of 39, jumped an SB for 5th in the Women's Triple Jump. They get no headlines but deserve honourable mention as well as the full support of team management.

    In contrast:
    Who ran 19th best time of 24 in their 400m semi, 0.8 sec off their season's best. While a 20 yr-old and a 21 yr-old produced SBs either in their semi or the final, finishing 8th and 6th.

    Who threw 3.5 m below their best for 12th place in the shot final, while a near-SB and an SB won silver and bronze?

    Who threw 6+ metres below their season's best in the javelin to finish 10th, while an athlete with a similar SB came close to theirs for 5th, and one with an SB four metres worse came close to theirs for 9th?

    Which relay team were the only one of the top five finalists not to better their semi-final time, coming 4th?

    I shan't name these names, but I bet CvC will in the debriefings, and a few more besides.

    What they deserve, at best, is attention from a sports psychologist and an honest report from a neutral coach on their chances of being in better shape physically and/or mentally in nearly a year's time.

    What all subsidised athletes owe us taxpayers is to assess how far they think they can get at the Olympics, and then focus everything on doing SB on that precise date, be it heat, semi, or final.

  • Comment number 39.

    Praising Failure is something Brits do ALOT. If we win 10 Medals, we are the best country in the world and are un-stoppable, if we win 2, its a "we tried our best, maybe next year" attitude.

    These Athletes get paid MILLIONS to do a job, and by all rights should be first in everything they particapate in. These want to be treated as normal folk, then let them do the all they do on minimum wage, see how they perform then..

    Pethetic if you ask me!

  • Comment number 40.

    Nibs - with your Crystal ball have you seen the outcome of England's race if the athletes managed to finish the race? As far as I'm concerned she looked very strong coming into the final straight and is a deserved medalist regardless of the unfortunate competitors. As for her qualifying time from the semi final its unimportant in determining the final placings otherwise why run the final at all just get them to run the distance once and hand the medals out there and then!

    As for Turner he was fortunate and has admitted that himself however the disqualification was just and therefore its another medal earned by team GB!

  • Comment number 41.

    We are a small Island Nation. When our best paid National sportsmen (Football) fail at every hurdle in a major championship, how can any body expect the lower funded Athletics Teams to realistically deliver wholesomley in track & field. Get a grip we have a small number of active people in this country, by 2020 25% of population expected to be obese, so expect our Sporting success to diminish. If some of you see this as failure, get off you backsides and start competing, then see how hard it is,the Team did well, if you get beaten by people who have set personal bests, then congratulations to them.

  • Comment number 42.

    Whilst the issue of PB's/SB's is of obvious concern I don't believe this is the biggest issue as the majority of athletes were underperforming at these games whether that be the olympic syndrome or the windy stadium. The medal haul was a good achievement and it is irrelevant of who CVC had planned for the medals before as he probably didn't know exactly.

    The performance of 'Christine O' throws more scepticism over those missed drug tests whilst the other question mark in that respect Dwain Chambers remains to show the others the way in sprinting despite his DQ and more importantly his age...when will UKA wake up and realise a senior athlete running 10. is not worth top level funding...

    Ennis' performance could not be criticised, as a top level multi-eventer you can't expect to get 7/10 pbs every competition and the fact she still scored one of her best ever scores deserves credit...the fact nobody alluded to her rivals abilities beforehand is the only reason for the surprise.

    The biggest gulf is clearly men's and women's track events particularly the sprints and it would seem that treating some similar to Andy turner a few years ago would be a smart move and force people to improve (since his drop from funding I believe turner has medalled at the 2 major outdoor championships since)

    Overall these championships were a success and with the youth coming through the future is bright but when it comes down to it (as in many international sports) Britain is a tiny country and athletics is by no means our main sport so coming in the top 6 in the world is an outstanding achievement!

  • Comment number 43.

    Regarding the "Why Daegu?" question, the simple answer is that sport's administrators pursue a marketing and growth agenda, promoting their product in emerging markets rather than established ones.
    This is why they had to bus people in "en masse". (The term is French, but voice recognition software seems to be unaware of that).

  • Comment number 44.

    All in all its fair to say we will expect more in a years time but Dai Green and Mo Farah's progress this year added to the consistent world class Idowu and Ennis and other potential medalists in Ohurogu, Turner (he was lucky but he gets himself in the right place to be so a lot), and a few other oustiders and we may end up with a decent medal hall I mean if Farah doubles up there are 5 realistic although far from certain gold medal opportunities which would be amazing and the games being in London will probably spur them on anyway.

    No need for doom and gloom anyway its a far better team than a few years back if hardly a "Golden generation"

  • Comment number 45.

    Has anybody done some proper statistics to compare actual v expected results? Expected results being calculated from the relative size of a country's registered athlete population (with perhaps a weighting factor for development level or environmental factors). I suspect we do quite well.

  • Comment number 46.

    Good performance by the whole team-ok there will be dissapointments and surprises.We should rejoice in their achivements.
    Charles stated this is a work in progress. We should commend Charles for his straight talking and the athletes respond to him.
    He is building a team for 2012 and for the future.
    The Board should try to keep him beyond 2012.If they do not who do they have in mind after the 2012 games of his stature.

  • Comment number 47.

    #35 nibs - Right so everyone should gather in a sports hall, have their personal and season's bests read out, the top 3 get the medals and everyone packs up and goes home? not much of a championships if you ask me.

    #38 playunextyear - It can be simplistic to get hung up on comparisons with personal and particularly season's bests. The elite African distance runners, for example, are well-known for turning up at championships having largely ignored the 'grand prix' season. People like Asafa Powell, meanwhile, seem to prioritise 'setting a time' at one of these meetings rather than building their season up to a champs.

    Finally, Usain Bolt - 100m SB 9.88; final - DQ; winning time 9.92. Failure?

  • Comment number 48.

    "Praising failure is something we Brits do ALOT" - I think a look down this board and previous athletic blogs disproves that. Seems like a lot of criticism to me.

    "These athletes get paid MILLIONS to do a job" - Name one.

    This brilliantly written piece gives a much more realistic view of the path our athletes tread in order to follow their dream

    CVC said 7/8 we got 7, so not a bad estimate. Some over achieved, some under achieved, some did what was expected - pretty much as normal.

    In saying this, we should expect more now that they our athletes have a level of support that is the envy of many other countries and we should expect to see an improvement - I think we are

  • Comment number 49.

    Typical British media knocking sportsmen and women....however i wouldn't complain if they knocked channel 4, what woeful coverage of these championships, you could see Michael Johnson cringe everytime he was asked questions by the ill informed 'childrens TV presenters'!!!

  • Comment number 50.

    #11 @stevieeng34 , i think you're being quite pessimistic
    Jessica ennis was on for a massive PB and British record in the heptathlon, despite her below par start in the first 2 rounds. It was only when she had an appalling javelin that the russian surpassed her. Ennis beat the russian in 5 events, the russian beat her in 2. Next year, she will (like she said she is going to) be back with a strong javelin, and she said she wants to go under the 22 second barrier in the 200m.

    If Ennis performs to the best she can do in London, I think there's a strong possibility that she could go over the 7000 points mark.

    Also, Mo Farah is legendary, he will try to go for double in the 10,000 and 5,000m, something which he is very capable of.

    And Di Greene is improving quickly, he is the favorite to take the 400m title in London, something which he won't let us down on.

    There were some disappointing performances, Meadows and the relays were horrible.

    Also, you need to factor in home support here. People say that it could cause too much pressure to athletes, but the athletes we expect to take gold for GB in London are used to this pressure, and will not buckle. Having 80,000 people screaming for you as you compete is going to spur you on, and make you do something very special.

  • Comment number 51.

    Why are people going on about us only getting 2 gold and could have been more apart from 2 outstanding performances by other athletes from other countries!!!

    Surely they/we should be thinking why can't our athletes over perform like that to get the gold medals!!! Why can't our athletes get PB's.

    Why do we have so many good athletes that perform at the youth games and others but then can't move forward when they become full internationals. What is wrong wth our training methods as well. How can it be that Mo onl gets better when he trains with foreign teams or coaches.

    Haven't we spent enough time and money on coaches and the set up to get good professional coaches, equipment and training facilities. Why are we lagging behind so badly.

  • Comment number 52.

    Ah Nibs. (No. 35)
    So lovely to hear your wonderfully positive views on yet another blog board. We'd really be getting overly excited without you bringing us down to earth with reasoned, sensible, totally destructive comments.
    7 medals, about right.
    Could do better, could do worse.

  • Comment number 53.

    I used to live in South Africa but I am now a British Citizen, I follow Athletics as much as possible and cannot believe some of the negativity surrounding the performances at the recent World Champs. Sure some were expected to do better but lets be realistic, in the Mens 10 000m Mo got the tactics wrong by 20meters! but he still managed silver medal, Phillips had an amazing round of jumps but the winner had 1 great jump! Jess was beaten by someone who was posting PB's! She needs to do MUCH better at the javelin, period! Dai Greene - awesome, period! Cristina made a mistake in the 400m for women, the 800m girls were disappointing but to be honest i dont think they would have made an impact in the final at all!
    I my memory serves me right there was only 1 World Record - in the final ecent of the games (4 x 100m Mens relay)! So overall it was not a "wonderful" championship and for that matter no-one was exceptional (compared to previous World Championships") but the one thing I absolutely hate is to read or hear how poor our athletes were (or sports people). So how many more medals could the GB team have won? Christina in the 400m? I think not, Who else should have won then? Stop this slagging of the GB team people and rather get behind them for 2012 Olympics.
    Lastly I was surpised to see my old country win 4 medals and even more surprised at the 4 x 400m relay silver medal.
    Other athletes around the world aslo train extremely hard to achieve success!

  • Comment number 54.

    #35. What preposterous nonsense, nibs! If Bekele hadn't been absent for the past 18 months, then Mo wouldn't have won the 5k. Similarly, if Kerron Clement/Angelo Taylor etc etc hadn't been injured, Greene wouldn't have won either. If Tamgho hadn't got crocked last month, Phillips might have been relegated to bronze. If Kluft was still doing heptathlon, then Jess + the Russian would be battling for silver.
    Nobody (not even a genius like you) can analyse every single aspect of every single athlete's training + performance to decide who should/shouldn't win medals. It's all about training hard, trying to avoid illness/injury, turning up on the day + getting it right.

  • Comment number 55.

    33. At 12:54 5th Sep 2011, LeePom wrote:
    #6. What do you think is the Director's role in UK athletics? I don't think that he has a crystal ball, do you? If he did he'd be playing the National Lottery! If he starts making specific predictions then you'd be getting on his case for making mistakes if he gets them wrong. For example, who'd guess that Idowu would jump 17.77m with Tamgho absent and STILL finish second? Nobody could have predicted that - and yet that result meant that we did not match our best ever haul of three golds (in '93)!

    *yawn* you cant have it both ways, either he should predict individual results or keep his mouth shut. You can not claim things are unpredictable and defend him making predictions.

    You could take it a step farther and say he should have predictions of runners time, jumpers distances etc. at which point how anyone else does in relative terms is irrelevant. Who'd have guesses Odowu would jump 17.77? Exactly no-one but he should have been given a minimum target of 17.65 or something similar. Without this kind of accuracy in predictions the idea "we will get x medals" is pointless.

    Oh and who predicts these things? Bookmakers, with unnerving accuracy, if they can do it as outsiders then surely those who have monitored an athletes training can do it better?

  • Comment number 56.

    I'm sure athlete's would post faster times if they didn't have to wear big paper wind resistent flags on their torso's

  • Comment number 57.

    'In addition to GB's underwhelming gold medal haul and finals placings pre 2012 and in relation to official predictions (, a crucial fact that hasn't been mentioned and a reason for the disappointment behind the scenes is that two out of the seven medals were undeserved, having resulted not from superior performance but from one-off misfortunes to others.'

    So medals that were not 'deserved' due to the misfortune of or mistakes by other athletes don't count.

    Tiffany OP stumbled mid-race when in second, so that's a silver to add to the tally.

    Mo F probably kicked too early in the 10,000, so that's another GB & NI gold.

    Jessica E had - by her standards - a poor high jump and javelin, and an early stumble in the hurdles. Correcting her score to account for these mistakes, that's another gold to add to the tally.

    So I make that 4 golds and 2 silvers. Congratulations to Team GB & NI for their best ever gold-medal haul at a World Championships.

  • Comment number 58.

    @ 27 The_Second_Noel quoted:

    "Had it not been for the hurdlers - Dai Greene's gold medal in the 400m and a bronze for Andy Turner in the 110m - and Mo Farah, the absenteeism would have become embarrassing."

    Yes, if it hadn't been for out athletes winning medals, we wouldn't have won any medals at all


    Completely agree, what a load of tosh Tom, you should be embarrassed with that one.

    Our athletes gave it their all. If they'd gone on to convert EVERY medal that they'd wished for, they'd have been even more prone to a few stabs from the media come next year.

    Leave them be, on the basis that no-one could do better.

  • Comment number 59.


    I realise that that sounds a little like they decided to not convert them, that's not what I was getting at!

  • Comment number 60.

    What can one say, its the classic 'glass half full, half empty syndrome' Some good individual performances(plus one great one, guess who?!) . Some below par perforamnces, not least the mens 400m 'squad' -note how Van C singled them out for criticism. Perhpas 7/10 overall? Howeveer, this has always been the story of UK track and field..and I've been involved with it for over 30years. Athletics is an individual sport, but there surely must be some kind of case for an overall coaching structure? So many coaches, all with their own methods. Perhaps some could learn from Malcolm Arnold(the coach of Dai Green, Colin Jackson and many others)? One example, how do we manage to turn so many world ranking junior sprinters into mediocre 'seniors'? There has to be a coaching issue here. Final point for '50' I'm sure Jessica Ennis hopes to go under 23s...if she went under 22s she should switch to the 2oom as she would be Olympic champion!

  • Comment number 61.

    The way I look at it is comparing these performances (filled with effort, passion, self belief etc) to the characters we call England's soccer team. The contrast could not be more clear. Laughably the media talked about Mo Farah and others needing "redemption". If they need redemption, what do the greedy, under performing, characterless individuals we call our national soccer team need!!

  • Comment number 62.

    Can I also congratulate Tom F -didnt think I'd find myself saying that-for a thoughtful and well balanced piece. I've never been one for blind 'flag waving' . I rejoice when 'we' do well, but feel no compunction to ignore weanknesses and faults..its the olny way to improve. Of course some journalists love building athletes up just to knock them them down, but consistent 'uner performance' should be identified and dealt with. Again, I have to single out the mens and womens sprinters and the mens 400m 'squad'..whether its a coaching issue or not..not least becasue when interviewed they seem singularly lacking in the type of realistic self criticism refreshingly present elsewhere. Our mens sprinters in particular have been in steady decline for many years..and its really time this was properly admitted. Overall, on a par with our 'histroric' performances in the Wolrd Campionships, but might we expect a little more building up to our 'home' Olympics? Privately, I suspect Van C thniks much the same

  • Comment number 63.

    I think the language of some of these comments justifying those athletes who failed to perform to claims is as interesting as the faults with UKA..

    "Underperformed", "had it not been for", "winner putting in oustanding effort"

    how about substituting these for

    "Outperformed", "papering over the cracks", "second best"

    The culture of taking positives from defeat, not accepting that there was someone much better than you, and admitting you didn't try hard enough have a lot to answer for!

  • Comment number 64.

    63Tend to agree, but , for me, 'underperforming' is more critical than 'out performed' ...the former says 'should have done better' the latter, 'however well you did there was someone better than you'...surely less of a criticism?

  • Comment number 65.

    I have to agree with Tom's blog that medal haul papers over cracks. Lets forget the medal haul for a minute as it seems we could argue over this all day. These were the world championships a year before the olympics. So I have to presume that athletes trained to peak at these championships as they will need to for next years Olympics. If this was the case it was sad that so many athletes could not even produce a SB never mind a PB. Why???

    What is really worrying is our lack of depth considering we have been preparing for the Olympics for 6 years. For example we only had one entrant in the mens 400m and many other events. I wondered why we had no young hopefuls who could be there for the experience but then wondered if I was a young hopeful and needing to weigh up gaining experience against probable media and national opinion of what are they doing there.
    Of course we had some young athletes there and commentators kept pointing out to us don't worry they are gaining experiencing but failing to point out the people winning the medals were of a similar age.

    I am an optimist and maybe some athletes will get it right for the Olympics. At Olympic level margins will be small between success and failure for British athletes. I'm preparing to expect some narrow failures but also some surprising success stories driven on by a home support.

  • Comment number 66.

    #15 mattlehagi
    "My dream; that we can celebrate great performances by anyone, admire the sheer guts and determination of virtually everyone who competes, revel in the privilege of having it happening right here at home and generally host the games in an enthusiastic and celebratory manner leading to an Olympics that athletes and fans alike will remember for years to come! (Whether or not we hit our medal targets!!!!)"

    Very well put, I'd like to share that dream too. Seems fat chance of it happening sadly, but I do like it.

  • Comment number 67.

    I actually thought this was a pretty decent blog, but as with all BBC Sport Blogs it appears there is a huge number who disagree with every point!!!

    I believe there is a major issue with the British sprinters. They never perform.

    It was said during the London Diamond League meeting - why is Harry A-A so big??? Do those big shoulder muscles actually benefit him in anyway? Clearly they are there to take down Yanks in relays! But his performances are getting no better. He would be well advised to go to the US, get a new coach, slim down and get back to his best, not seen since he was a junior.

    It's a sign of how bad things are when Devonish & Malcolm are still pulling on the vest at 35 & 32 years of age. There is no talent pool at all. A lot of promise - Pickering, Fifton, Williamson, A-A, but no end product.

    It's the same with the 400m. Martyn Roonye comes across as having an arrogant swagger that is totally undeserved. The Beeb & Channel 4 must spend enough hiring Michael Johnson - god knows he earnt his money last week on C4 - surely UKA could hire him to work with the 200m & 400m runners.

    On the evidence of last week we have just 4 propects of Gold next year - Mo in the 5k & 10k, Dai Greene who was superb, Phillips if he can just nail a big 18metre jump & Jessica Ennis. it's tough to see anyone else improving in the next year.

    One request - if South Africa are treating Oscar Pisturias unfairly, can we recruit him. We could do with a 400m runner with a big heart and a clear drive to improve. Would teach Martyn Rooney a thing or two!!!

  • Comment number 68.

    And yet, David Shield, a hundred thousand people turn out to watch our footballers everytime they play at home and millions watch them when they play for their clubs every week. Whereas, except for once every four years when the olympic flag is unfurled, the only people who watch our athletes are their mums and dads. Now stop being nasty about our national sport or when your little sports' day is finished next year we won't let you come back now and again to run round that football pitch we're going to turn it into.

  • Comment number 69.

    64.At 15:15 5th Sep 2011, radclifferoad wrote:

    "63Tend to agree, but , for me, 'underperforming' is more critical than 'out performed' ...the former says 'should have done better' the latter, 'however well you did there was someone better than you'...surely less of a criticism?"

    Nope. "Outperformed" means that on that day or generally you are second best (neutral or critical). "Underperformed" indicates you are much better than that, better than those who beat you and that on another day you'd usually win (indirect praise of ability, disregard for the opposition and positive for the future).

    You hear this sort of spin language week in day out on Sky's football coverage. When an overinflated player or team doesn't live up to the hype, it's because they were "not out of 2nd gear" / "had an off day" / "not at their very best", not that this is exactly their best, the expectations were ridiculous and they are simply not good enough.


  • Comment number 70.

    We do seem to be a nation that thrives on ifs and buts. Yes we could (and probably should) have got 5 golds but the fact is that 3 athletes from other countries pulled one out of the bag and we got 2 golds and 3 silvers instead. Rest assured Mo, Jess and Philips are not thinking about "if onlys". They will be analysing what they did wrong, working with their coaches to correct it and working their damndest to make sure it doesn't happen in London.

    As for statistics, it is said that statistics are like a lamp post to a drunken man - more for leaning on that illumination. Stats can be dressed up any way you like to get over whatever message you like.

    So how about this for a novel idea. Let's not treat our athletes, footballers, cricketers (2011 excepted), et al as though they have deliberately perfomed poorly to rile us and keep journalists in a job. Let's get behind them wholeheartedly and hope for some wholehearted celebrations as per cricket 2011

  • Comment number 71.

    Bolshevikblues - I am afraid you have been wasting your life then, along with hundreds of thousands of others. The England soccer team is beyond any redemption. Its not about viewing figures or money, its about people epitomising all that is good about sport - courage, focus, self belief, overcoming odds. The athletes have done this, the England soccer players consistently fail to do it.

  • Comment number 72.

    Emma Jackson also secured a personal best in the 800 metres semi's. I would have thought that would have constituted a PB in you terms of 'when it mattered most'.

  • Comment number 73.

    Why is there so much on the website about our athletes and so little about our rowers. I wonder how our rowers' funding compares with our athletes funding, and yet the rowers have much better chance of a good medal haul at the Olympics.

  • Comment number 74.

    Everyone was left underwhelmed briefly after the Cycling World Champs as well - I think the big point is that these athletes have a long term goal, and nearly everybody's training is focussed on the Olympics next year. However, they hold less importance for foreign athletes, who will have perhaps 6 month training plans for the Olympics, as opposed to our athletes who have been completely fixed on 2012 for at least 2 years already.

  • Comment number 75.

    Tell me something, if the brilliant Mo Farah had won gold not silver in the 10,000m would he have even run in the 5,000m as, if I recall correctly, he only entered the 5,000m after the 10,000m race? If that is the case then GB & NI medal tally would be down to 2 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze then added to that if Robles had not been disqualified in the 110m hurdles then the tally would be further reduced, on top of that I'm sure that CvCs medals prediction of 7 or 8 did not include the sensational but surprise 1500m silver medal of Hannah England.

    I really hope and believe this is the timely reminder (1 year before the Olympics) for the likes of Jennie Meadows, Phillips Odowu, Jessica Ennis and others that top Diamond League performances are to be applauded but in the long term World and Olympic success is what athletes are really remembered for.

  • Comment number 76.

    David Sheal #71

    Could not agree more with you, regarding your comment.

    Generally it has not been a vintage year for the European athletics season but these championships gave us everything. A marvellous duel in the women's javelin, shock eliminations throughout, fantastic individual performances especially in the 110 hurdles for women. Mo's performance in the 5000, Rudisha's dominance in the 800, there was something for everyone.

    I do agree with Tom Fordyce though regarding team GB&NI, athetics like any sport can never just be about the here and now, the future is equally important. We as a nation, have invested a great deal of time and money in athletics and if it is to be judged purely by medals at global level, then the question has to be asked, are we getting a fair return for the investment?

    For me the World Championships delivered, it's not just about national pride.

  • Comment number 77.

    71.At 16:09 5th Sep 2011, DAVID SHEAL wrote:
    Bolshevikblues - I am afraid you have been wasting your life then, along with hundreds of thousands of others. The England soccer team is beyond any redemption. Its not about viewing figures or money, its about people epitomising all that is good about sport - courage, focus, self belief, overcoming odds. The athletes have done this, the England soccer players consistently fail to do it.



    Is there on this planet a more pathetic group of 'sportmen' than the over-paid,under-talented pampered Princess's of the premier league, the England representatives in particular?

  • Comment number 78.

    DonkeyLambert, there is a huge difference between this years world Athletics Champs and the track cycling champs.

    In the latter, many of our stars are only just coming back into top flight competition after having a self imposed rest. Further, in cycling , the olympic programme has changed , some of the events dropped were events GB dominated in . Finally, at the track worlds not all of our stars competed.Admittedly our dominance in Beijing and in th4e Worlds leading up to 2008 having given as a certain gold standard expectation in cycling.

    In Athletics, 90% of our A team were there.

  • Comment number 79.

    lets be serious. Gb had more medals than France, Italy and Spain put together,, you will always get a few superstars and then the rest who only are 5% behind the best and wont make a final. New faces will come thru but look who were ahead of us . the really big nations in atheletic running Jamaca and Kenya just have the gene pool end of.

    And our two golds could have doubled but for two miracluous performances.

    too much analysis too little praise. rmember the coe ovett thompson days we all do but did our atheletics medal tally any better then ??? no...

  • Comment number 80.

    "These Athletes get paid MILLIONS to do a job"

    No they don't!

    Footballers do...

    Well done to those who did succed and achieve their targets and hopefully more will push through and look up to the likes of Mo Farah as inspiration!

  • Comment number 81.

    Our medal haul was fine given 1.our size as a nation (60 odd million against the rest of the world) 2. the fact that we spread ourselves very thinly as a sporting nation (we will enter practically anything sporting!) and 3 when viewed against other comparative nations; Germany, France, Spain, Australia we have done well. Kenya and Jamaica are above us as Athletics is a national obsession for both and within a particular area - distance running and sprints.

    Regards a lack of brits in the minor placings I can live without a consistent run of 6th places if we are meddling well but having false starts and the usual baton dropping didn't help . The silver medals could well be converted into Gold come next year and I thought we looked in pretty good shape overall.

  • Comment number 82.

    I would like to echo the sentiments of poster 15.

    Athletics is the purest form of sport. Minimal equipment. Reasonably matched individuals competing against each other (and the clock or measuring tape) in identical conditions.

    I'm not sure Farah's achievements have been recognised enough. Gold and Silver in distance events at a global championships! We have been spoiled by Bekele and Gebreselassie. And I know Mo has only had one good event, but this is 'comparable' to people like Viren, Zatopek, Yifter, Bekele.

    What about Pearson's 100m hurdles, the fastest time for 20 years, fourth fastest time ever - and to be honest the other three times on that list may have a faint whiff of 'assistance' about em. And then there's a below par Bolt, still running an astonishing time. Maybe even more impressive is Lemaitre's performance, nearly half a second off his PB and closing in fast at the end. The Women's javelin was awesome and a near 18m triple jump.

    Jess Ennis is a legend, she's half the size of them other lasses and someone had to blow their PB out of the water to beat her. We can't beat up Ennis and Idowu 'cos someone else had a great day. They have consistently delivered medals and done all CvC's PR work for him.

    What is worrying is the lack of grass roots interest in the sport. Take Theo Walcott. people tell me he's well rapid, like international sprinter rapid. Yet he will be an above average premier league footballer and make millions. If a decent sprinting coach had got him at 12, he could be a cracking 200m guy. But he wouldn't have the Lambo and the paps following him round.

    We will have 4 or 5 realistic Gold medal chances in London and another 4 or 5 realistic medal chances. We're not a massive country in terms of population and athletics investment. I reckon we should be fairly happy with that and just enjoy the spectacle of the world's best, wherever they're from.

  • Comment number 83.

    Whatever has happened in this championship the final medal table top ten next year will be along the lines of:
    1. China
    2. USA
    3. Russia
    4. GB & NI
    5. France
    6. Germany
    7. Italy
    8. Netherlands
    9. Australia
    10. Ukraine

    Why? Because it's in Western Europe,the amount of investment put in by GB,France and Germany, and China will take most of Australias swimming medals from them.

  • Comment number 84.

    I'd be really really happy with, say, 10 T&F medals next summer - inc. 3 or 4 gold - and it looks like we're on for that, or something close.

  • Comment number 85.

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

  • Comment number 86.

    Those that were contenders for gold can be forgiven as they were only beaten by incrdible performances. What's worrying is that we had so few finalists, few competitors that brought their best to the championship, with below par performances or false starts.

    However, why they were unable to produce at the championship they had been training for is something I am sure can be addressed. Also, though our new young athletes did not perform particuarly well, their potential has been noticeable throughout the season. Therefore, I think the prospects for 2012 and beyond are still very positive.

  • Comment number 87.

    I would like to comment on the state of British sprinting as I feel that with the talent that GB has had in the past at world youth and world junior level we really should have been doing so much better especially in the men’s sprinting, as they never seem to reach the potential that they had before senior level.
    Other countries don’t seem to have this problem as there juniors seem to progress well in the seniors.
    I have compiled a list below of past GB medal winners in the world youth and junior championships and look at all the talent we had, that never seemed to have reached there early potential they once had at junior into the seniors.
    As I have said other juniors from countries that have been medal winners have made the jump to seniors and become senior medal winners. Even quite a few of the juniors that are guys have beaten to get medals have turned out better at senior level.

    It’s obvious that something is missing that needs to be done between junior and senior level to help the juniors progress to reach there full potential in the seniors. If this is not looked at then I feel that the future stars we have now especially in the women’s sprinting e.g. Jodie Williams, Ashleigh Nelson, Shaunna Thompson, Asha Philip, Desiree Henry could go the same way as the men’s and not progress.

    World Youth Championships Sprinting Medals

    M 1999 Mark Lewis-Francis 100m Gold
    M 1999 Timothy Benjamin 200m Gold
    W 2001 Amy Spencer 200m Silver
    M 2003 Craig Pickering 100m Bronze
    M 2003 Jamahl Alert 200m Bronze
    M 2005 Harry Aikines-Aryeetey 100m and 200m Gold
    M 2005 Alex Nelson 100m Silver
    W 2007 Asha Philip 100m Gold
    W 2007 Ashlee Nelson 100m Bronze

    World Junior Championships Sprinting Medals

    M 1996 Dwain Chambers 100m Gold
    M 1998 Christian Malcolm 100m and 200m Gold
    M 2000 Mark Lewis-Francis 100m Gold
    M 2000 Timothy Benjamin 200m Bronze
    W 2002 Vernicha James 200m Gold
    M 2006 Harry Aikines-Aryeetey 100m Gold
    M 2006 Alex Nelson 200m Bronze
    W 2008 Ashlee Nelson 100m Silver

  • Comment number 88.

    Instead of repeatedly bad mouthing our athletes, why don't you and your fellow "journalists" turn over a new leaf and actually praise them. Whichever sport is written about in the UK, only 10% (a generous figure) is positive, as the writer(s) seem to take great pleasure in tearing strips off the subject. Considering we British are 22nd in the population table we out perform many countries with populations way above ours, in many different sports. The top performing countries also spend much more money on helping their athletes. You don't hear of Americans coming to the UK to train, but to get decent facilities our athletes have to leave these shores.
    The only reason there are superstars like Bolt in athletics - money. If he had be born in the 50's he wouldn't have gone into athletics, more likely Grid Iron. I am sick and tired of how money continually ruins every single sport on the planet. The phrase "It's the taking part that counts" is long gone!

  • Comment number 89.

    Too much is made about our results in athletics and swimming : the events that get the biggest interest.

    Our amazing medal-ranking in Beijing was boosted massively by Cycling, Rowing, Sailing etc.

    Support ALL our athletes in their chosen disciplines.

  • Comment number 90.

    #15 mattlehagi

    I agree with your post and your dream :)

  • Comment number 91.

    im devastated Lolo Jones wasnt competing, she takes my breath away : )

  • Comment number 92.

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

  • Comment number 93.

    We have had some championships in the past where team gb haven't come home with a single gold and there are some people on this thread complaining they only got a couple of golds! Furthermore this article says they had a poor games apart from the big performances and that most of the Brits did rubbish apart from those who won a medal. That's like saying Chairman Mao was an okay guy if you forgot about the 70million he killed!

    It is simply absurd because the ones who did win medals performed on a level or beyond their potential. No one can say that Mo Farah, Ennis and Idowa not winning golds when they got silver was underperforming; they put in good performances and were beaten by the better athlete on the day. All the big names turned up and performed and those who didn't such as the 800m girls, Dwain Chambers and Christine Ohurungu realistically had little chance of a medal. Okay they didn't get the 7th or 8th they could've got but ultimately it is medals that matter and unless you are someone like Oscar Pistorius for whom making a world semi final is understandably a major achievement, then it is irrelevant where you come if it is not third or higher.

    We can question why British athletics doesnt have more depth beyond our handful of world class athletes but to criticise a great gb games seems insane. Athletics is much tougher than it was 20 years ago, especially in the running events and it is important to recognise how difficult it is to win world medals.

  • Comment number 94.

    69 . Sorry to persist, but youre linguistically incorrect, , in itself 'underperformed' simply means that you didnt do as well as you could/should have doubt it can be used by the merchants of spin to mean something else, but, in itself, used correctly, it implies nothing about how well you might have done relative to others had you performed to the best of your ability. To take the obvious example, it can be used about an athlete who performs below their seasonal 'norm in a major event. There is no need to 'gloss' that to suggest that had 'x' performed as well as might have been expected 'y' result would follow. So, its a serious criticism if used correctly. I'm afraid you're allowing its misuse to dictate what you beleive it means, ie you are becoming a victim of spin yourself!

  • Comment number 95.

    Tom, I thought you had a better grasp of the sport compared to the other journalists shave written rubbish from the BBC.

    The team did well, good progress. Some people underperformed but that happens and you hope the bounce back. We are never going to be 1st on the medal table so please don't write the article like we expect to be there.

    There are signs that athletes coming back from long term injuries have shown they can perform (Kwayke) and there is still time for promising younger athletes to come through. E.g worth a punt on 3 GB Men in 400hurdles final next year if Greene, Green and Woodward stay fit.

  • Comment number 96.

    95, you're right about the 400m hurdles but look at 87... to misquote Oscar Wilde 'for one sprinter to fail to develop may be an accident for so many to fail to develop looks like carelessness'! Even worse, in my book, is the of our most successful events down the years...dont wish to personalise too much but it seems to be embodied in Martyn much natural talent and so little focus and discipline..and, bluntly, his post race interviews dont even suggest he's that bothered.

  • Comment number 97.

    Never mind, Jessica Ennis looks pretty hot in that photo.

    It must be hard to perform in that heat.

  • Comment number 98.

    Tom just a question what is your background in athletics , if its sitting in an arm chair and having a opinion then perhaps you should stick to something else because your comments are bordering on ridiculous

  • Comment number 99.

    Why Daegu?
    I bought tickets for each of the sessions about three months ago. Even then I was told by the organizers that the tickets were almost entirely sold, and had to buy each session separately instead of week tickets. I bought a flight from the US through Seoul and on to Daegu. But when it came to finding a hotel it was impossible through regular channels - all the hotels were either booked or had blocked off rooms for officials, media, coaches, etc. I considered commuting from Pusan or even Seoul each day, but it just seemed exhausting thinking about (anything from a 2.5 to 4 hour round trip each day depending on train).

    So I dropped my plans. My seat was one of the empty ones all week. I read on the some of the blogs that die-hard fans had tried all sorts of creative ways to find accommodation, but I didn't have the time needed to devote to the challenge. It was just off putting.

    No wonder they needed to bus in kids to fill up all the seats they could. And they were free! But this must have been known well in advance of the championships – that the city did not have the infrastructure needed to support a true international gathering. But what was that about sold out tickets? Yes, why Daegu and why such terrible pre-planning, but how did they get awarded the champs? It was a very user-unfriendly event.

  • Comment number 100.

    not a bad medal haul at all...but why so few top athletes in field events...have the coaches thought of finding talent from the obese people...or the rioters...throwing discuss/hammer/shotput should be easy for the lot of them...
    athletics is very good compared to footy...infact footy is the worst as cricket, rugby, tennis, golf, hockey, etc are all sports which GB is better at than footy...why?


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