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Page last updated at 15:15 GMT, Sunday, 31 August 2008 16:15 UK

Foster wary of changing UKA boss

Dave Collins
Collins has come under increasing pressure since the Beijing Olympics

Brendan Foster has warned a change at the top of UK Athletics might not bring an instant turnaround in fortunes.

UKA performance director Dave Collins has come under fire after the below-par display of Britain's Olympic athletes.

Collins could lose his job, with Dutch performance director Charles van Commenee heavily linked with the post.

But the BBC commentator warned: "This is not the panacea. We all know football clubs who change managers and it doesn't make any difference."

Collins, who succeeded Max Jones in March 2005 and has a contract until March, was set a target of winning five medals at the Olympics, but his athletes only came home with four.

And UK Athletics is under pressure to deliver more medals in the most high-profile sport at the London Olympics in 2012.

Chief executive Niels de Vos revealed during the Beijing Games that he had spoken to possible successors to Collins.

But Foster, the former 3,000m world record holder, added: "It's not an easy job. It's a very difficult task.

"It's not a squad like in other sports where you have squad training, there are a lot of individuals.

"And whether Charles van Commenee was the boss or Dave Collins was the boss, it wouldn't have made Colin Jackson run any quicker, it was him and his coach that made him run quicker.

"So I think you've got to temper it a little bit."

Van Commenee guided Denise Lewis to heptathlon gold in Sydney in 2000 and Kelly Sotherton to the bronze medal in Athens four years later, but later accused Sotherton of being a wimp and told her she should have won silver.

They'll have to go in there and start carving things up, making sure that it's best for the athletes rather than the system

Steve Ovett
Former 800m Olympic champion Steve Ovett believes a change would be good for the sport and says changes are required if there is to be an improved performance at the London Games in four years' time.

"You need someone who has the ability to come in, sees what needs to be done and get on with it," he told BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek.

"He cannot be hampered by people saying, 'this is the way it's been done in the past and the way we're doing things now', you've got to have someone who say's 'no that isn't good enough.'

"We're not getting the right results for the money that is being poured into our sport, it's as simple as that. Accountability now has to come into it.

"They're going to have to upset people. They'll have to go in there and start carving things up, making sure that it's best for the athletes rather than the system."

Ovett added that a new performance director would benefit from having someone work alongside them, and admitted he would relish the opportunity.

"If you can get guys like Charles, you need someone to back him up," he added.

"I would love the job, there's no question about that, but you have to weigh up your life. I'm happy and would think, 'What do I need the job for?'."

Christine Ohuruogu was the only British track and field athlete to win gold in Beijing, while other sports such as cycling, sailing and rowing excelled as Team GB returned home with a record medal haul.

The athletics team was set a target of five medals and despite falling just one short with four, the performance of the team as a whole has come in for plenty of criticism.

But Ohuruogu has given her backing to Collins and believes he is the right man to take UK Athletics forward.

"I think from what I see he was doing a brilliant job, I haven't heard the criticism or negative things," she said.

"He's more than capable of doing what he needs to do. He has a team around him that assists him getting the team where they need to be.

"It's not bad, we were a medal short on what was predicted. I think there were good performances, a lot of PBs and getting into finals of tough events."

Ovett also criticised the attitude of the current crop of UK athletes, saying: "They need a severe reality check as to what you need to do to survive and what you need to do to win.

"But they need someone that, when they're out on the warm-up track just about to go out into the Olympic stadium, tells them 'this is what you've got to do.

"'No messing around, you're not going to fall off the back of the pace and just hang around and finish in eighth or ninth. We've supported you, you're good enough get out there and start winning medals'."

see also
Ohuruogu lights up damp Gateshead
31 Aug 08 |  Athletics
Danvers backs under-fire Collins
26 Aug 08 |  Athletics
Idowu takes silver behind Evora
21 Aug 08 |  Athletics
GB & US both out of sprint relay
21 Aug 08 |  Athletics
Ohuruogu grabs gold for Britain
19 Aug 08 |  Athletics
Mason jumps to silver for Britain
19 Aug 08 |  Athletics
Danvers wins bronze behind Walker
20 Aug 08 |  Athletics
Collins named UK Athletics chief
07 Dec 04 |  Athletics

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