More medals, fewer rows – Peter Eriksson fires GB start gun

New team head coach promises changes from Van Commenee era prior to championship debut

Gothenburg

The new GB head coach, Peter Eriksson, was sitting in the Gothia Towers hotel in Sweden's second city, pondering the question of his particular "management style" when Jenny Meadows interjected. "He pulled all our bags off the conveyor belt at the airport," the British team captain said. "Charles didn't do that."

Eriksson was also quick to point out another difference between himself and his predecessor, Charles van Commenee. "It's not part of me to piss people off," he said pointedly. "That's not what I do. I try to help as much as I can."

The last time the British track and field squad were in Sweden, for the European Team Championship two years ago, the baggage had more to do with the row between Commenee and Phillips Idowu, then the world triple jump champion, about the latter's withdrawal from the squad via Twitter – a spat that burgeoned all the way up to the London Olympics.

The European Indoor Championship, which opens in the impressive Scandinavium arena this morning, will be the first test for Eriksson as Van Commenee's successor. It will also be the first international championship challenge for Britain's athletes in this post home-Olympic world.

The 28-strong British squad does not include the golden trio of Mo Farah, Jess Ennis and Greg Rutherford, but contains sufficient quality to ensure that the Eriksson era gets off to a sparkling start on the medal front. There ought to be at least as many British golds as were won under Van Commenee at the last European indoors in Paris two years ago – two courtesy of Farah and Helen Clitheroe in the men's and women's 3,000m, plus one retrospectively for Meadows in the 800m following the disqualification of the Russian drug offender Yevgeniya Zinurova.

When the team for Gothenburg was announced at the start of last week, Eriksson set a rough medal target of bettering the haul from Paris, which at the time stood at eight overall. It is now nine, the disqualification of another Russian doper, Yuliya Rusanova, having raised Marilyn Okoro from fourth to third in the ever-shifting 800m result from two years ago.

"It's early in the year and setting medal targets is unpredictable," Eriksson said. "I think you have to look at things like: are we doing the best we can? Just the numbers doesn't mean that much to me.

"We have a young team. The average age is 22. And I think a lot of people will surprise here. With the times and results we've seen in this early part of the year, it's very promising."

Eriksson himself might have turned 60 in November, but he is very much a new boy in charge of the able-bodied GB track and field team, having switched to the Olympic side of the UK Athletics programme last autumn following a phenomenally successful time as head coach of Britain's Paralympians.

It should help that his first major assignment happens to be on old home ground for him. Eriksson is a Canadian citizen but he was born and raised in Stockholm and competed for Sweden as a speed skater. "I remember competing in Gothenburg in around 1978," he said. "I haven't actually been to the city since 1995, when one of my athletes, Jeff Adams, won one of the wheelchair races at the World Championships."

That was when Jonathan Edwards hopped, stepped and jumped to his landmark 18.29m triple jump world record in the Ullevi Stadium, across the road from the Scandinavium. It is unlikely that any of the British class of 2013 will be disturbing the world indoor record books over the next three days, but Eriksson can be expected to make his own mark.

Asked how his management style differed to that of the blunt, often confrontational Van Commenee, the avuncular figure replied: "I used to say the biggest difference is that I have a Twitter account. I actually posted a picture for the first time today.

"It's a new era and we are moving forward and trying to develop. I think you need to consult more and more and listen to people and get feedback from whatever we do in order to improve. I consult a lot of people and try to be available for everybody who wants to speak to me any time of the day.

"But if it comes down to tough decisions, then I can make tough decisions. There are certain points where you can't and you have to say 'no'. And no means no. I'm Swedish, and if you say no then there's no way back after that." Even if you have a bag that needs carrying, presumably.

Golden shots: GB hopefuls at European Indoor Championship

Nigel Levine; 400m

Coached by Linford Christie. Should be a strong contender.

Holly Bleasdale; Pole vault

Chorley's finest tops the European rankings and starts favourite.

Robbie Grabarz; High jump

Olympic bronze medallist aiming to complete Euro outdoor-indoor double.

Women's 4x400m relay

Olympic silver medallist Christine Ohuruogu is in a formidable quartet.

Perri Shakes-Drayton; 400m

The 400m hurdler is in great shape on the flat.

Asha Phillip; 60m

Former world youth champion is starting to fulfil her potential.

Men's 4x400m relay

Levine, Michael Bingham and Co could take some stopping.

Michael Rimmer; 800m

The in-form Merseysider tops the European rankings.

Jenny Meadows; 800m

Back in shape after injury but Yelena Kotulskaya of Russia starts favourite.

Shara Proctor; Long jump

Bronze at 2012 world indoors.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
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: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower