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UK Athletics

Dave Collins verdict on the Championships

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Following the European Championships in Gothenburg and the World Junior Championships in Beijing, UK Athletics Performance Director Dave Collins gives his assessment of what has been achieved this summer, the first steps on the path to London 2012. However, there is one Championship remaining for British athletics, the IPC World Championships in Assen, Holland that start on 3 September.

“Overall, I am satisfied that we made the first steps to bigger things this summer. There are lots of things that we need to change and it would be great if people could get behind it. We exceeded our stretch medal target of 10 medals at the European Championships, without the likes of Paula Radcliffe, Dean Macey and Christian Malcolm.


“However, the most important factor for me is that the athletes at the European Championships, by and large showed much better commitment, hunger and determination. In parallel, there was clear dissatisfaction from those that didn’t perform to their best on the day.


“The average age of our eight individual medallists was just under 24 years, including an athlete making his senior debut (Sam Ellis) and a 19 year old (Greg Rutherford) that has now become established in the senior ranks, which is very encouraging.


“This reflects the transition we are making with new faces coming through from the junior ranks and progressing as seniors. Four years ago, our medallists were athletes (including Steve Backley and Colin Jackson) nearing the end of their career who have now retired, so this is the next generation coming through.


“Some outstanding individual athletes disguised the fact that we were off the pace in 2002. In fact we almost seemed to miss a generation, the sport was shaped like a Polo mint, with a big void beneath the established world-class athletes that have now retired. This was further illustrated – when Britain came home from the World Juniors in 2004 with no medals.


“Looking forwards, we have made differences to the system and processes of performance management, outcomes will follow but they will not happen as quickly as anyone, including us would like. But, I have seen a much better competitive attitude from the athletes, this summer. Athletes are stepping up, but this is just the beginning.”


The World Junior Championships provided a very challenging environment in the heat and humidity of Beijing, the venue of the 2008 Olympic Games and the team was better prepared than ever before. Collins explains: “We worked more closely with the coaches this year than ever before and the preparation camp in Macau was very effective. But there are always lessons to be learnt. I am very pleased that we exceeded our medal target of three, two years after the team failed to bring home a medal from Grosseto. “The number of personal bests was very encouraging, as well as the number of athletes finishing in the top 8,” which was a total of 12 athletes, equally split with six male athletes and six female athletes.


In total, ten athletes recorded personal bests at the World Junior Championships, including 15-year-old Asha Phillip (Newham & Essex Beagles) who just missed out on a medal in the 100m and set a British age group record and equalled the U17 British record set by Sonia Lannaman way back in 1972. Jade Surman (Birchfield Harriers) scored a huge personal best in the heptathlon, to top the British U18 all time lists and move above Denise Lewis to fourth place in the U20 all time rankings for heptathlon with a score of 5538. Both athletes are young enough to compete at the World Juniors in two years time.


Collins added: “The transition from juniors to seniors is the crucial part; we are working hard on the support system and management of the junior athletes. I certainly believe that a few of our seniors will be starting to look over their shoulder. The effective conversion of potential talent to world class achievement is our biggest focus.'

British medallists

European Championships

Men’s 4 x 100m    


Greg Rutherford     


Nathan Douglas  


Mo Farah                          


Women’s 4 x 100m          


Men’s 4 x 400m               Silver
Rhys Williams Bronze      
Becky Lyne Bronze 
Marlon Devonish    Bronze             
Andy Turner       Bronze         
Sam Ellis     Bronze              

World Junior Championships

Harry Aikines Aryeetey  Gold    
Alex NelsonBronze      
Martyn Rooney   Bronze             
Men’s 4 x 100m Bronze
Men’s 4 x 400m Bronze


The Power of 10 underpins UK Athletics' aims of having athletes in 50% of finals at the 2012 Olympic Games. To read more about the Power of 10, see the targets and find out more, visit the Power Of 10 website.