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Last Updated: Friday, 4 August 2006, 08:44 GMT 09:44 UK
British legends get mentor roles
Linford Christie (left) and Daley Thompson
The former Olympic champions are part of Collins's shake-up
Four of Britain's biggest athletics stars have been given ground-breaking coaching roles with national squads.

Olympic 100m champion Linford Christie and Steve Backley will work in a support role with senior athletes.

Double Olympic decathlon champion Daley Thompson and Olympic 400m bronze medallist Katharine Merry will work with Britain's junior talent.

UK Athletics performance director Dave Collins said: "They have the instant respect of all our athletes."

Christie's role is particularly controversial because of his two-year ban for taking banned steroids.

He has been overlooked by British athletics chiefs since he tested positive for nandrolone in 1999.

Christie has continually denied any wrongdoing but was not involved in London's bid for the 2012 Olympic Games.

I hope that I can instil in them a more competitive attitude

Daley Thompson
Both Christie and Backley will travel to Gothenburg for next week's European Championships, while Merry will accompany the British team to the World Juniors in Beijing.

Collins added: "We have chosen these four athletes as they have tremendous track records as athletes.

"Each has much to offer the sport of athletics."

Christie said: "There is a lot of talent in this country and sometimes it is something as simple as self belief that is missing.

"I'm looking forward to working with some existing athlete/coach partnerships to help athletes prepare mentally for the international stage."

Thompson, who won gold at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, has previously criticised British athletes for being "too soft".

He said: "There are some great kids out there with plenty of talent.

"What I want to offer them is an insight into how to become a more professional athlete.

"I hope that I can pass on to them some of the experience I have and instil in them a more competitive attitude."

Collins admitted that more mentors may be appointed in the coming months.

Olympic 200m silver medallist Darren Campbell will fly out to Beijing for the World Juniors to observe and learn how the mentors operate.

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