The departure of Dave Collins was not the only parting of the ways announced by UK Athletics yesterday. The former Royal Marine will be leaving the domestic governing body of track and field and so will his job description. The post of performance director is to be replaced by that of head coach. Charles van Commenee, the Dutchman who guided Denise Lewis to Olympic heptathlon gold eight years ago, is the odds-on favourite to fill it. Niels de Vos, the chief executive of UK Athletics, declined to confirm as much yesterday, but an announcement is expected "in the next few weeks". Van Commenee completes his duties as technical director of the Dutch Olympic Committee when the Paralympics close in Beijing on 17 September.
De Vos described Collins' departure as "not a sacking but an evolution". He insisted it was not simply a knee-jerk reaction to the failure by the British athletics team to hit their medal target at the Beijing Olympics (their aim was five; they achieved four). "If we'd won none or 20 medals, the changes I want to make would have gone ahead anyway," De Vos maintained. "It wasn't a reaction to performances in Beijing. I'd made these decisions beforehand.
"The performance director role, in my view, is just too broad. I'm gearing up very much more towards coaching and direct coaching intervention. There will be somebody stepping into a role of head coach. That will be the official title. It's a question of the role going forward. Dave did a very good job of putting systems in place, but systems don't win you medals. I felt we needed a higher level of coaching input across the board and Dave wasn't able to give that.
"If I had to take one single thing that's prompted this, it would be London 2012. We've got four years to make a major difference, to put athletics as the sport that wins more medals than the other domestic sports – and we've got a way to travel to do that."Reuse content