The former Olympic sprint relay champion Darren Campbell has called on Britain’s relay runners to have their National Lottery funding cut following their Beijing mishap here on Saturday. It was the latest in a catalogue of calamities by the men’s 4x100m relay squad, who have either been disqualified or failed to finish at the last four global championships.
Some of Britain’s athletes are solely on Lottery funding because of the relay, such as James Ellington, who warned a cut in his funding would cause him to revert back to a nine to five job. But Campbell, part of the victorious team at the 2004 Olympics, told the BBC: “There comes a point where people are being supported to go out there and perform and, just like the middle-distance runners and all the other athletes, if they’re not performing and they’re not delivering then maybe it’s time to take away some of the funding.”
In Beijing, Ellington and Chijindu Ujah failed to connect on the final changeover costing the team a medal, and leading to angry recriminations among the team immediately afterwards.
Performance Director of UK Athletics Neil Black defended team selection. “We didn’t believe that the team we put out in the first round was going to win a medal in the final, we were not going to be happy with fifth or sixth. So we chose a team and a tactic that was most likely to win a medal. We were looking for second, not for bronze. We were a whisker away from it. These are the risks that you have to take.”
Adam Gemili, who had been set to compete with the quartet but pulled out at the last minute as he continues to recover from a hamstring tear, called on his fellow sprinters to stop the blame game.
“That shouldn’t happen and it’s unfortunate. It’s an individual sport but we win and lose as a team. We’ve practised a lot together this year and unfortunately when it mattered we didn’t quite get it right.”