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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own