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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 August, 2004, 22:46 GMT 23:46 UK
Sotherton blasted by coach
By Andrew Fraser
BBC Sport in Athens

British heptathlete Kelly Sotherton
Kelly Sotherton's coach has criticised her for failing to win an Olympic silver medal in the heptathlon.

Charles van Commenee accused Sotherton of not running fast enough in the 800m, leaving her in third, 11 points behind Lithuania's Austra Skujyte.

"I can't believe someone being happy with bronze when you can pick up the silver," said Van Commenee.

"Her high jump was special but the rest was mediocre. If you can pick up silver then why don't you run your heart out?"

Van Commenee added: "She doesn't tap into her reserves enough. She has to learn what fatigue really is, and what pain really is.

"She is learning that. We started in March 2003, which is a very short time to learn everything. But it was not enough.

"She was not at her very best, and I expected her to be. I think she has a lot more to offer than she has done so far."

Van Commenee described Saturday as one of the worst days of his 27-year career after defending champion Denise Lewis failed to complete the competition.

"I was not going to state that in public weeks before, but secretly and amongst the three of us we were going for two medals here," he said.

Denise loves the sport so much she will not get out this way
Denise Lewis' coach
Charles van Commenee
"And going home with one, when the silver was relatively easy to win, is devastating - a huge disappointment."

Van Commenee said Lewis had quit the competition with two events to go because "she did not want to expose herself to more humiliation".

"She is a warrior. Not going to the javelin was a very, very hard thing to do for her," he added.

"She was devastated. She felt embarrassed. We were on a mission to win a medal and it was not going to happen.

"This is the first time ever in her life that she has not completed an event, and she was very proud of her record."

Van Commenee insisted, however, that Lewis was capable of competing at the highest level again.

"Despite everyone thinking she is someone from the past, she isn't," he said.

"Before the start of the competition I really believed she could win a silver.

"Certainly she has not competed enough. We don't want to hide behind injuries. It's always 'the Denise Lewis injury story'.

"She did not withdraw for physical reasons. We had not been able to prepare properly in terms of enough speed work, especially in jumps and speed events.

"Nevertheless, Denise was still good enough to win the silver.

"We're in shock at the moment, and it's not wise nor possible to say anything sensible about the next few weeks and months.

"She loves the sport so much she will not get out this way."





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