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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 August, 2005, 20:16 GMT 21:16 UK
Steve Cram column
Steve Cram
By Steve Cram
BBC Sport commentator

Great Britain's performance at the World Championships has got to be as bad as it gets - it can't get any worse than this.

My sense of disappointment is quite small because we weren't expecting a lot before the championships began.

Great Britain sent a weak team and there were people in it who shouldn't have been there in the first place.

I think everyone is concerned but there are no easy answers.

Martyn Rooney in the men's 4x400m relay final where Britain finished fouth
Rooney shone in Helsinki with two superb runs for the 4x400m team
I'm not sure we should get all hot and bothered about UK Athletics.

There are lots of things they aren't doing right but I don't think it is as simple as putting in place a system that can produce medallists.

We do have some burgeoning talent coming through and that talent needs to drive itself.

Former world champions like Jonathan Edwards, Colin Jackson and Sally Gunnell were all in charge of their own programmes and chose their own coaches.

They were driving their own destiny and that is the best way to nurture success.

Martyn Rooney is a good example of the kind of young athletes who are developing.

He came here as part of the 4x400m relay team and ran wonderfully well.

Rooney has the ability to run 44.80 seconds and he says the 800m is his prefered event and that time over that distance is world class.

Now he needs someone to sit down with him and sort out the right coaching. And on top of that he has got to want to take his career forward too.

The bottom line is we don't have enough good athletes and we are guilty of putting pressure on the people that are around and making them out to be better than they actually are.

And there are people who could perform better who simply aren't.

Tim Benjamin is not in that category as he did well in Helsinki and neither is Kelly Sotherton.

Paula Radcliffe holds aloft her marathon gold medal
Whatever happens in Paula's career now she's got something tangible and that is what any athlete deserves

All right, Kelly didn't win the bronze this time but she is still a world-class heptathlete and will always be battling out for bronze behind Carolina Kluft and Eunice Barber.

Nathan Douglas on the other hand didn't even qualify for the triple jump final with no real explanation for that.

He's been fit, healthy and jumping well but he came to the Worlds and for whatever reason didn't perform.

The sprint lads - with the exception of Jason Gardener - did not perform to the level they should do.

I think they were fortunate to win the bronze medal in the 4x100m relay and in a few years they will look back and say, "We were Olympics champions and we got beat by a team who weren't very good."

But on the bright side there is of course Paula Radcliffe's superb gold marathon medal.

We had been waiting for that all week long and she has been waiting for the past 10 years.

The fact that Constantina Dita and Catherine Ndereba didn't let her have it all her own way made it an intriguing race to watch.

Paula executed the race so well and it took great application for her not to crumble when Dita came back at her for the second time.

Owning that World gold title is a huge monkey off her back. Don't forget she has won world cross country and half-marathon titles before but winning a World or Olympic gold is the pinnacle for any athlete.

Now whatever happens in her career she's got something tangible and that is what any athlete deserves.




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