Injuries send Team GB limping to Berlin

Head coach rails at 'fragile' Britons as squad for world championships is announced

It was never likely to be a stroll in the park for Britain's runners, jumpers and throwers at the world championships, which open in Berlin two weeks on Saturday. With just one of their number occupying a top-three slot in the world rankings (Jessica Ennis, who heads the global order in the heptathlon), there has not exactly been a pile of great expectation building on the shoulders of the team.

Injuries have already taken a toll – accounting for Mara Yamauchi, ranked second in the marathon in 2009; Tasha Danvers, the Olympic 400m hurdles bronze medallist; and Kelly Sotherton, a bronze medal-winner in the heptathlon at the last world championships, in Osaka two years ago. And there could be further casualties, with question marks over the health and fitness of Paula Radcliffe and Christine Ohuruogu, the two British athletes who have won global major outdoor championship titles since the Athens Olympics in 2004.

"It's like when I was walking in Hyde Park the other week," Charles van Commenee, the head coach of UK Athletics, mused yesterday after announcing the 60-strong team that, as had been expected, includes Dwain Chambers, who will contest the 200m as well as the 100m. "It was a beautiful sunny day, then suddenly the hail stones came out of the sky, and five minutes later there is a storm. The injuries are coming from all over the place. I hardly dare pick up the phone any more when it rings. I would not really be surprised if one or two more athletes had to pull out... This has to change, of course."

In the long-term, with the 2012 Olympics in mind, Van Commenee intends to tackle what he considers to be the root of a problem that, in his opinion, leads to the public perception of Britain's injury-prone athletes as being a bunch of "pussies and wankers". "We do have too many fragile athletes," the straight-talking Dutchman said. "I need to sit down with the coaches and medical people after the season, but my current view on it is that the athletes are conditioned poorly over the years from a young age.

"It possibly has to do with a lack of knowledge of how to do that, or other reasons we have to go into. We are not very successful in bringing through very gifted athletes to the senior elite level and it has a lot to do with them being vulnerable. It is not easy to discuss these things with coaches because I have found they are very defensive when you talk about these things. They feel attacked."

It is quite possible that Van Commenee himself may be attacked in some quarters if the under-strength British team struggle to meet the ambitious target he set yesterday of matching the five medals won in Osaka – although, having been in his post for all of five months, the Amsterdammer could hardly be held responsible for the long-term condition of the athletes he has found in his charge.

"I am reluctant to talk about these things but I do understand the public perception and it bothers me," he said. "But I won't use that [as any excuse] at the end of the championships. I hate it when athletes talk about niggles and pains and lack of preparation. I will ask them not to do it because it makes the sport look poor. It [injury] comes with the sport and it affects all countries."

Over the years, it has affected Radcliffe more than most. The marathon world record holder has not raced since last November and has been suffering from illness in recent weeks while building up her training mileage after missing the London Marathon in April because of a foot injury. "Paula is selected but the decision to compete is hers," Van Commenee said.

Ohuruogu, the reigning world and Olympic 400m champion, is struggling with a hamstring injury. Van Commenee said she was "very likely to compete" but added hastily that: "We shall have to wait and see."

British squad: For World Championships

Men

100m: D Chambers, T Edgar, S Williamson

200m: Chambers, M Devonish, T Sandeman

400m: M Bingham, M Rooney, R Tobin

800m: M Rimmer

1500m: A Baddeley, T Lancashire

5000m: M Farah

110m hurdles: G Frankis, A Turner

400m hurdles: D Greene, R Williams

4x100m relay: H Akines-Aryeetey, Devonish, Edgar, R Fifton, C Pickering, Williamson

4x400m relay: Bingham, C Clarke, N Levine, Rooney, Tobin, C Williams

High Jump: G Mason

Pole Vault: L Cutts, S Lewis

Long Jump: G Rutherford, C Tomlinson

Triple Jump: L Achike, N Douglas, P Idowu

Shot: C Myerscough

Javelin: M Luckwell

Women

200m: E Freeman

400m: C Ohuruogu, N Sanders

800m: J Meadows, M Okoro, J Simpson

1500m: L Dobriskey, C Thomas, S Twell

3000m steeplechase: H Clitheroe

Marathon: P Radcliffe

20k Race Walk: J Jackson

110m hurdles: S Claxton, J Ennis

400m hurdles: E Child, P Shakes- Drayton

Pole Vault: K Dennison

Javelin: G Sayers

Hammer: Z Derham

Heptathlon: Ennis; L Hazel

4x100m: E Ania, M Douglas, J Kwakye, J Maduaka, A Onuora, L Turner

4x400m: V Barr, L McConnell, Ohuruogu, Okoro, Sanders, Shakes- Drayton

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
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

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering