Athletics: Arnold attacks the 'put nothing in' philosophy

Mike Rowbottom on fall-out from the weekend's world indoor athletics championships

Following their relatively disappointing return of three silver medals from the world indoor championships in Paris over the weekend, Malcolm Arnold, the Great Britain head coach, yesterday delivered an uncharacteristically blunt assessment of the team's performance, singling out the former world and Olympic champion Sally Gunnell among others.

Second-best for Jamie Baulch, Colin Jackson and Ashia Hansen was not enough to placate Arnold, who also attacked this country's lack of financial support for the sport.

"I know this was the world championships, and that the competition is fierce, but I expected more," Arnold said.

"The men's relay team performed very badly indeed, Steve Smith and Dalton Grant in the high jump didn't do what we hoped for and I was disappointed in Sally [Gunnell] and Phyllis Smith too.

"They under-performed, it's as simple as that. If they had performed at their normal level they could have won medals."

But while Arnold was not happy with the lack of medals, he suggested that the public were perhaps demanding too much from the sport. "We just haven't got the resources our competitors have," Arnold said. "If you put nothing in, you deserve to get nothing out, and in terms of money this country is putting nothing in.

"It's actually getting plenty out for nothing, and there's so much commitment from everybody involved. But we have very poor facilities and we need to put that right. All that we are asking for is half the price of Alan Shearer's left leg."

Arnold's protests notwithstanding, medals now are only half the story. After claiming one of the 24 individual win bonuses of $50,000 (pounds 32,000) in Paris, the Ukrainian shot putter Vita Pavlysh was asked what meant most to her: the medal or the money. "To speak frankly," she replied, "I needed the money."

The response of most other gold medallists was less explicit. Wilson Kipketer, for instance, whose two world 800 metre records illuminated the weekend, maintained that it did not matter if there was money on offer or not. For all that, he walked away with $50,000 for his victory and a further $50,000 for breaking the world record.

The effect of the International Amateur Athletic Federation's introduction of prize-money to this event spoke for itself. In contrast to the pale offerings in Barcelona two years ago, the 1997 championships attracted an entry rich in Olympic and world medallists.

The resulting action was correspondingly rich. Besides Kipketer's sublime running, and two other world records in the women's 400m relay and pole vault, the Palais-Omnisports witnessed a series of memorable images. Maria Mutola, dazed with remembrance after winning an 800m title she dedicated to her late father; disbelief on the face of Mary Slaney as she saw a woman six years her senior at 44, Yekaterina Podkopayeva, pass her five metres from the line to win the 1500m; Haile Gebrselassie destroying a hugely talented field in the men's 3,000m.

The financial incentives offered in Paris helped to pull the sport together. But commercial forces are also creating an opposite effect within the sport right now in setting up a series of lucrative head-to-head contests. On 1 June, a Toronto promoter has arranged a $1m (pounds 640,000) challenge over 150m between the Olympic champions Donovan Bailey and Michael Johnson; a day earlier, in Belgium, Gebrselassie will meet Noureddine Morceli in another $1m challenge over two miles. There are worrying factors in this new climate - the sport risks fragmenting into a series of shoe company set-pieces, and Gebrselassie's indication at the weekend that he would not be interested in defending his world 10,000m title this summer does not bode well.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British author Howard Jacobson has been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize
books
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Systems Analyst (Technical, UML, UI)

£30000 - £40000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Senior Private Client Solicitor - Gloucestershire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - We are makin...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Support Developer

£50000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A unique and rare opport...

Insight Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k – North London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum plus 23 days holiday and pension scheme: Clearwater ...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn