Athletics 'needs new energy' says departing Van Commenee


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The Independent Online

UK Athletics will announce a new coaching team tomorrow after tough-talking Dutchman Charles van Commenee confirmed he will step down as head coach.

The 54-year-old has stuck to his promise to move on if the British track and field team failed to meet his own target of eight medals at the London Olympics.

It means Britain's athletes will have a new man at the top for the run-up to the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and the World Championships in London the following year.

Van Commenee will leave the organisation when his contract expires in December and UKA will tomorrow announce a new coaching team which is expected to have a different structure to the current set-up.

British athletes won six medals in London, two short of Van Commenee's target, and although four were gold – two for Mo Farah plus Jessica Ennis and Greg Rutherford – the head coach has stuck to his word.

UKA chief executive Niels de Vos has been aware of Van Commenee's likely decision, despite the offer of a new contract, and already had an alternative plan up his sleeve.

Van Commenee said it was important for the sport that he stuck to his word. He said: "Niels and I have worked hard to implement accountability as it is vital to the culture of elite sport, and this has been absolutely central to what we have achieved here in a short space of time.Whilst I am thankful for the kind comments and wishes I have received in recent weeks, I believe my decision has the interests of British athletics at its heart.

"I am happy the future is looking promising with the talent that is about to break through now. But now it needs the new energy and approach by the new leadership team through to 2017. Niels has always had an eye on the eventuality of my leaving – indeed he and I have worked together to put in place an excellent succession plan for the sport. I look forward to seeing the future successes for the GB & NI team."

UKA will tomorrow confirm the new structure, and whether there will be a continuing role for American "super coach" Dan Pfaff, a Van Commenee signing who has been credited with doing much to change Rutherford's technique. De Vos paid tribute to Van Commenee for helping to plan for his successor. He said: "Charles has done an excellent job. We have spoken daily for the last four years and have discussed the post-2012 position almost as often."