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Friday, 10 August, 2001, 23:50 GMT 00:50 UK
Can you explain Britain's failure?
It was meant to be the sporting event that cheered Britain up, but the World Championships have been an unmitigated failure.

Can you explain the short-comings of the GB team?


Things haven't gone according to plan for British athletics in Edmonton, and people want answers.

Two medals so far leaves team GB floundering below the likes of Greece, the Bahamas and old rivals Australia in the medals table.

Injuries can usually be excused, but many observers are asking why the British team are so susceptible.

Then there are the bewildering failures: Backley in the javelin, Malcolm in the 200m final and no men's finalist from 400m upwards.

Athletics has long been Britain's saving grace, a sport in which we competed with the best. So what's gone wrong since Sydney?

Can you explain Britain's failure in Edmonton?


Don't be so depressed by the results. We got the same number of medals and at least our gold medalist is not not a convenient import. The basic talent is there and with lottery funding things will improve. We need to encourage the atheletes, not put them down.
Paul Goerick, Australia

We've just got to try and learn some lessons for the future
Tony, UK

It is time we moved on from the soul searching and wringing of hands. There were some magnificent performances during the Championships by athletes across the world and some exciting competitive struggles. We should be celebrating all the medal achievements, the personal bests and the bravery of athletes prepared to perform on the world stage and fail - irrespective of country of origin.
Robin Thomas, UK

Who says we failed? What you need to consider is the level of support our athletes get compared to other countries. Also, don't forget the performances of the 'youngsters' coming through such as Mark Lewis-Francis and Abi Oyapitan - they did magnificently considering it's their first major championships - what a learning curve! Obviously injuries put pay to a great deal of hopes, but I don't think we should be too hard on all of the athletes. I know it's not the same as medals, but at least they tried their best on the day, you can't ask for more than that.
Jaime, United Kingdom

Let's get this in perspective - we didn't win many medals. Okay, the athletes were not up for it in the same way as the Olympics but they're not machines. We've just got to try and learn some lessons for the future.
Tony, UK

When people realise that England are non-competitive at major sporting events they will soon learn not to be disappointed when we fail to win.
Mark Bole, England

It's like the cricket isn't it? Come the big occasion there's a complete lack of competitive spirit and pride in your country. Other country's athletes can perform through the pain, ours can't. Take away some of the salaries and fees for these people, and then it's down to your own self-respect and respect for your country.
Martin O, UK

The athletes at present do give it their all, in fairness, but the talent is just not there
Enda Craddock, Ireland

What are we drawing comparisons against? We were very bouyant after being so successful in the last Olympics, but perhaps we need to review how many of those medals were from track and field. My recollection was that many came from the 'elitest' sports such as rowing, shoooting, riding etc. Sports that kids from the average background never get access to - so we are left with an under-funded athletics environment. Football draws interest because it is accessible, athletics is a lot of work for little return - the remainder of sports that we won medals for in Sydney are mainly available to those that attend the right schools and have the right background. We shouldn't condemn aour athletes for performing to the best of their abilities, we should be reviewing what aspects of sports we should be focusing on.
Still Kicking, UK

Brendan Foster made the excuse that as the Olympics were only eight months ago, and that we should be a little forgiving because our Athletes were tired! It's their job to be fit and represent the country.
Darren, England

Look, the reason that Britain did not fare well at the World Championships is very simple - the quality required is just not there. Gone are the days when there were the likes of Christie, Jackson, Black, Gunnell, and a good 4x400 relay team, who were serious gold-medal contenders. Now there's just Edwards, and to a lesser extent Dean Macey. The athletes at present do give it their all, in fairness, but the talent is just not there. I'm sure good times will come again, but please stop putting the cause of Britain's failure down to injuries and so forth.
Enda Craddock, Ireland

If only making feeble excuses year-after-year was a competitive sport, England would reign supreme.
John Claro, UK

We should not be so negative about our athletes
Jeremy, UK

Britain's lack of success has to be put down to performance on the day rather than lack of quality. If the medals had been judged on performance in the heats, Chambers, Malcolm, Rawlinson and Holmes would all have walked away with one. With a fit Katherine Merry, marathon-running Paula Radcliffe, an even better Mark Lewis-Francis and an extra slice of belief, we have all the ingredients for a potential-realising Championships in 2003. No excuses!
Geoff Dillon, UK

I think the main reason for the UK's showing was poor preperation. I've never known us to have so many injuries. It's no good having Lottery money if nobody is fit enough to do themselves justice. When you look at it, how many people in the team where fully fit? That speaks for itself.
Alan Uzomah, UK

We should not be so negative about our athletes. It must be hard enough for them to have not done as well as they feel they can, without coming home to a roasting from the UK public and media. Obviously more investment and facilities are needed, but it is public support and encouragement through good times and bad that will keep athletes inspired and committed.
Jeremy, UK

Give our atheletes a break! What with sorting out sponsorship deals, keeping track of their appearances in tabloid gossip columns and appearing on light-weight TV sporting quiz shows, they can hardly be expected to keep up with other atheletes who seem to do nothing but train!
Andrew Carter, UK

You don't need great facilities to exchange a baton
Paul James, UK

The setting of the World Championship was always going to favour the athletes from hotter climates, so I do not think we should be too despondent about our performance. Men's middle distance ruinning is going through a bad spell due to the lack of good trainers in this country, but with people such as Cram and Coe currently doing the rounds this should hopefully be corrected soon. I think football swallows up a lot of the youngsters today, which is another reason why athletics, and also sports such as tennis, are failing today
Biff Dholey, UK

Watching the final of the women's 5000m summed up modern day athletics for me. Its a corrupt and fundamentally flawed sport that has been drowned by individual egos and a desire to win at any cost. As a sport it has lost the plot. No wonder British kids reject track and field in favour of other sports. Its time they woke up to this.
Mike, England

Why on earth are our sprint squad still using downward baton changes in the 4x100m? Handing the baton downward slows the change down by shortening the incoming runner's stride, is less positive and makes it much easier to miss the outgoing runner's hand - as Malcolm and Barbour demonstrated.
Eddie, UK

You don't need great facilities to exchange a baton. When this happens more than once it is time to ask what has gone wrong with the basic coaching.
Paul James, UK

To get it wrong once can be forgiven, to do it twice is downright stupidity. Britain's 4x100 relay squad needs to get its act together.
Mike Mellor, England

There are 200 countries in the world and less than 40 gold medals up for grabs. The team have done fine!
Stella, UK
I don't think that GB athletes have failed at all. All these results really highlight is that it is extremely difficult to win a world title in athletics. Furthermore, I think there is far too much emphasis placed on winning medals as a measure of national success. Is coming second or third really any better than finishing in the top five? How many people reading this message can claim to be fifth best in the world at what they do? We also forget that the "heroic failures" like Paula Radcliffe are already world champions: she has won two world titles in the last 12 months. Things really aren't as bad as the media make out.
Mark Burnley, England

There are 200 countries in the world and less than 40 gold medals up for grabs. The team have done fine!
Stella, UK

We are not giving the team the credit they deserve. They work their socks off all year around to try and be the best and, unfortunately, they are not quite there yet. Young people are not given the chance to take part in athletics. If anything, the youngsters in underprivileged areas are not able to access any type of facilities, never mind bad ones. If we want to be able to compete with the best, we need to invest money into facilities, try to convince more people that athletics is a great sport and that they will be supported every step of the way, just as footballers are.
Stacey Williams, UK

A lot of the problem with British sport in general is attitude. Though the sportsmen and women may have the desire to perform to the best of their ability, they are still praised for coming second or third. In other countries, i.e. USA and Australia, anything other than victory is portrayed as a disappointing performance by the media. Perhaps if our athletes didn't receive the recognition they do they will find that extra bit of passion needed to be the best.
Nic, Exeter

If it is any consolation, Canada has no medals and we were the host of the event
Bill Atkinson, Canada
Maybe the BBC commentators should be more realistic with what individuals could and should achieve, as I feel even more let down by certain athletes expecting them to win a medal by what the commentators predict.
Sue, UK

If it is any consolation, Canada has no medals and we were the host of the event.
Bill Atkinson, Canada

The UK athletes were simply outclassed by more talented performers. Other nations, even smaller nations, seem to have more depth in their squads. For too long we have relied upon a select band of athletes to deliver time and time again - they're bound to prove that they're only human in the end. If anything, for the younger athletes, this will be a valuable learning experience.
Jaycee, Wales

There is a simple answer to the question: they are not good enough. The individuals such as Edwards are. If you want to compete and win against the top nations it will take money, time and a whole new approach to coaching, which would include getting rid of the present coaches for a start.
Mal Walker, Australia

In many other, more successful sporting countries, facilities are better, life is made easier and the athlete has more incentive to perform
Phil, UK
I really can't explain how disappointed I was with the failure of the British 4x100 quartet to qualify in a major championship once again. When is the heartache going to end? It had been a very disappointing championship so far and I thought the relay was where the British men could redeem themselves. Heaven knows they had a very good chance of getting a medal but once again, they threw it away.

I heard the relay coach John Regis trying to be diplomatic about it but it's about time fingers need to be pointed. The blame has to lie somewhere! As Roger Black rightly said in response to Marlon Devonish's comment about having two chances next year to redeem themselves, they don't as the Europeans and Commonwealth games are not really world-class events.
Afe, England

This post mortem is what usually follows a sporting fixture involving a British contingent, Everyone is looking for reasons why we didn't achieve but the answer is clear. With the exception of soccer, little is given and much expected from the great British public. Athletes, even some at the highest level, have to make tough decisions regarding their commitment to their chosen sport, most will have to slog away day after day in substandard facilities with little backup and finance.

In many other, more successful sporting countries, facilities are better, life is made easier and the athlete has more incentive to perform. It is true that occasionally, true British guts and determination straddles these hurdles and leads to a medal, and Britain holds them up as heroes, but as soon as they fail, they are castigated and scorned by the tabloids. What incentive do British boys and girls have to take up these competitive sports?
Phil, UK

I think inexperience caused some of the failures
Hannah, England

There is too much television and central heating. Sporting prowess requires effort and pain. National decline is often the result of too great a liking for luxury. I lived for six years in Ethiopia. I would see old women walking miles with bundles of firewood on their backs. Here, I can barely get my kids to fetch their bikes in. It's little wonder that a country such as Ethiopia is much higher in the medals table.
Mike Allen, England

I think inexperience caused some of the failures, this is no-ones fault but can be improved with more competitions on the circuit. However I feel young people are not being encouraged to join the sport. I'm 15 and very few people in my year can be bothered to even attempt athletics at any sort of competitive level. I think we need to start at the roots to see any success later on. There is a lot of undiscovered talent out there that needs to be encouraged.
Hannah, England

While I would be the first to admit that we have had very little luck through losing three of our Olympic medallists through injury, this does not disguise the fact that there are many things wrong with British athletics at present. There is absolutely no strength in depth in the middle and long distance events and it seems that many of our athletes froze when it came to the finals. However, this is only the early stage of a four-year cycle. The most important thing is success at the next Olympics.
Allister Webb, England

To compete at the highest level you have to be single minded, mean, selfish and driven. All I see is apathy and weak excuses like 'I gave it my best shot' or 'I just wasn't good enough on the day'. It seems like some of them just think it's nice to be there. But they are there for a purpose; not just to compete but to really challenge. It's time to do that and stop making excuses.
Robert Russell, UK

We got too carried away with things after Sydney, got complacent and assumed that all we'd have to do is turn up, and win a glut of medal
David, UK

I'm a Brit living in Australia and I suppose what it boils down to is resources and making sport an integral part of the nation. Do you systematically want to develop talent from the earliest age to compete at the top in a range of sports? If so, Britain will need to invest in talent accordingly and revamp the way sport is managed and talent is developed.

Sport is also a national cultural thing - many sports in Australia are supported accordingly - it is a source of national pride. I've played top class hockey against Australian teams and they have a spirit (replicated across cricket, rugby, etc) that they may be four nil down with ten minutes to go but they still believe that they can win five to four.
Iain, Australia

I think that we need tougher training methods. We are getting better through lottery cash which has made a huge difference to the athletes. However, maybe tough basic training similar to that used by the eastern European countries who seem to do rather well when it comes to winning medals is the way forward?
Jill, Great Britain

How come it's always us who seem to suffer these freak injuries and produce third-rate performances at the championships? We weren't exactly helped by injuries but only two medals is a poor effort. There are some people who went over the top expecting and assuming that we'd win six gold medals and several other medals as well. But we've seriously under-performed at Edmonton.

We got too carried away with things after Sydney, got complacent and assumed that all we'd have to do is turn up, and win a glut of medals. It doesn't work out that way. A year might not seem a long time, but in sporting terms it is. The rest of the world has moved on since the Olympics while we've stood still.

One bad world championships doesn't mean that all heads at the top of British Athletics from management to coaching should roll. But an even more pathetic showing in the Europeans next year will something will have to be done urgently to prevent the sport disintegrating totally.
David, UK

Perhaps Jonathan Edwards should take a coaching role, he seems one of the few to excel under pressure
Candy, UK
Let's not get too downhearted as the championships are not over yet. Although I would admit that further medals are looking increasingly rare. Typically GB get around six or seven medals at this level and may end up with only three or four here.

Certainly, bad luck has been a factor with a number of high-profile injuries for medal certainties (Merry & Lewis) and Malcolm, Chambers and Radcliffe can count themselves unfortunate, illustrating the thin line between success and failure. Ultimately things go in waves and there is nothing to suggest that GB will not bounce back at the next Championships and this will all be forgotten.
Liam Godfrey, UK

I know it's the buzz word of the moment but the phrase "mentality to win" really rings true for our athletes. Christian Malcolm on times alone should have got a medal but lost his form when under pressure in the final. Chris Rawlinson was unlucky, but nonetheless concentration is as much an integral part of racing as pure speed. The same can be said of a lot of men and women. Fortunately, the likes of Malcolm and Devonish will be back and better for the experience. Perhaps Jonathan Edwards should take a coaching role, he seems one of the few to excel under pressure.
Candy, UK

There is a fine line between success and failure at the highest levels of sport. The British swimming team failed to win a medal in Sydney but it won several at the recent world championships. It's been the other way around for the athletics team which had a good Olympics but poor world championships.
Ray Brown, England

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