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  Monday, 13 August, 2001, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
British flops under fire
AP: Dwain Chambers at the Worlds
Dick is critical of the hairstyles of some British athletes
Steve Ovett has added his voice to the growing criticism of Great Britain's poor performance at the World Championships.

The former Olympic gold medallist insists British athletics needs to be radically restructured after Britain finished 21st in the medal table.

"If we want to be a second rate nation, let's carry on down the road we have been going," Ovett said.

And he was particularly forthright about UK Athletics, formed after the bankruptcy of its predecessor, British Athletics.

"When UK Athletics was formed, we were told it would be a fresh start," Ovett continued.


It's a disaster... two medals isn't good enough when our benchmark is six
British team director Max Jones

"But there's no difference with the BAAB except there is now millions of pounds of lottery money available.

"Even with that financial support we got so few competitors into finals here.

"Athletes are being paid and not producing the goods. There's definitely something wrong with the system.

"We need to be looking five or six years ahead.

"They tell me there are now all these full time professional coaches and with cash available they should be producing the right medal-winning combinations."

Ovett's words were reiterated by Britain's former team coach Frank Dick.

He accused the country's top athletes of a lack of dedication, warning them to "take care of business first and let nothing get in the way."

And Dick was also critical of the plethora of personal coaches and quirky hairstyles on view in Canada.

Kelly Holmes at the World Championships
Holmes reflects on Edmonton disappointment

"Athletes must not focus on being a commercial success instead of being a good professional," he told BBC Five Live.

"Take hairstyles for instance. They're all very nice, but why not paint it after you've won something and not beforehand?"

Dick also labelled personal coaches a distraction.

"We have to give athletes what they need to achieve, not what they want. There is a big difference," he insisted.

Current team performance director, Max Jones, also voiced his disappointment after yet more missed medal chances on the last day of Edmonton competition.

Kelly Holmes could only finish sixth in the 800m while both the men's and women's 4x400m relay teams failed to challenge.

It left the British team with just two medals from the nine day event - the worst return from a major event for 25 years.

"It's a disaster," said Jones.

"Two medals isn't good enough when our benchmark is six medals."

"We come into every major games with possibly a dozen people who could medal and from that we usually get a 50% hit list.

Jones knows lessons must be learnt and says all aspects of preparation and performance will be looked at.

'Few positives'

"It's important the British team get our best people on the line.

"We did it in Sydney to a certain extent but here we failed dismally and we've got to go back and look at that.

"Is it training, is it medical back-up? You can't win medals unless you get your best people on the line."

But despite the despondency Jones insisted the British team can bounce back at next year's European Championships and Commonwealth Games.

"Our very best team is one of the best teams in the world," he said.

"Lottery funding is guaranteed to 2004 and I hope and believe this is just a blip.

"There's no way you can take a lot of positives from this. We're judged on medals and you can't get away from that."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
UK athletics performance director Max Jones
"Two medals isn't good enough"
Former GB director of coaching Frank Dick
"In some instances we seem more concerned with image than performance"
GB sprinter Darren Campbell
"The support [medically] doesn't seem to be there when we really need it"
BBC athletics correspondent John Rawling
"Britain's worst championships in a quarter of a century"
World Athletics Championship site

Statistics section

In-depth coverage

Our man in Edmonton

Clickable guide

Internet links

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