Athletics: Collins delivers warning over Britain's failure

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"I'm very pleased for Paula," he said. "She is a special athlete. But her victory changes absolutely nothing in terms of what we are going to have to do to get the sport back on track. I have seen some complacency, and people who are not looking to improve. We are going to have to put in a hard winter of work."

While Collins believes that Radcliffe's continuing domination of the world distance running scene offers clear hope that the African supremacy can be overcome, he remains cautious about the prospects of other British athletes reaching such levels of performance. He hinted that it may be a more realistic ambition to continue to challenge the American domination of the sprinting events.

Asked how she thought British athletics could turn itself around to live up to expectations at the 2012 London Olympics, Radcliffe responded: "That is not an easy question. But I think you need to widen the base of the pyramid in terms of participation, to get more people into the sport. We need better structures in place so that once there, they stay in the sport.'

Twenty four hours after the sprint quartet of Jason Gardener, Marlon Devonish, Christian Malcolm and Mark Lewis-Francis had taken bronze in a final lacking the disqualified favourites, the United States, the marathon produced another welcome flurry of success for Britain. Maura Yamauchi and Hayley Haining produced respective personal bests of 2hr 31min 26sec and 2:34.41 to claim 18th and 25th places, results which, added to Radcliffe's, earned Britain team bronze medals in the World Cup event incorporated into the World Championships.

Radcliffe was not the only athlete yesterday to turn a less than satisfactory Olympic experience to their advantage. Rashid Ramzi, the former Moroccan now running for his adopted country of Bahrain, completed the first 800/1500m double at these championships by securing the gold medal over two laps in a personal best of 1min 44.24sec.

"I learnt from my mistakes in Athens," said Ramzi, who was knocked out in the semi-finals there. "I knew the race was going to be decided in the final straight, and I was ready for that."

The victory for the former training partner of Hicham El Guerrouj, who was unable to defend his title here because of a viral illness, represented another vindication - at least in basic terms - for the phenomenon which has been changing the face of middle distance running.

Earlier in the week, another convert won gold for a Gulf state when Saif Saeed Shaheen, formerly Stephen Cherono of Kenya, defended the 3,000m steeplechase title he had won amid such controversy in Paris two years ago in the adopted colours of Qatar.

Gulf states have now annexed the central tract of world middle distance running with athletes who are paid by them, but who cannot contemplate training in their adopted countries because of the soaring temperatures. It is a kind of remote control that will surely come under increasing scrutiny from the athletics authorities.

The Championships witnessed their second world record early yesterday evening when, following Yelena Isinbayeva's pole vault of 5.01 metres, Osleidys Menendez of Cuba took the javelin world mark to 71.70m with her first throw.

Helen Clitheroe provided some relatively rare British interest in a track final as she took her place in the 1500m, but she finished 11th in 4min 05.19sec as the gold went to Tatyana Tomashova.

In the absence of Kenenisa Bekele, the Ethiopians had to give best to their old Kenyan rivals in the 5,000m; Benjamin Limo took gold ahead of Sileshi Sihine, with Australia's Craig Mottram winning the bronze medal.

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