Head coach Charles van Commenee may still quit Team GB despite four golds
Van Commenee will consider his position after athletes fail to hit target of eight medals
Monday 13 August 2012
For Charles van Commenee, life is a beach. Having spent the past three and a half years pushing Britain's track-and-field athletes towards a home Olympic target of eight medals (including one gold) and watched his runners, jumpers and throwers fall two gongs short, the head coach of UK Athletics is heading for a sandy shore in the Caribbean to consider his future.
The Dutchman always said he would walk away if he failed to succeed in his eight-medal mission but his bosses at the domestic governing body – chief executive Niels de Vos and chairman Ed Warner – have both asked him to renew his contract, which expires in December. So, for good measure, has Lord Coe.
The medal tally might not have stacked up to the best since 1984, which had been Van Commenee's personal target (UK Sport's official target was "between five and eight"), but the haul of four golds was the most since Tokyo in 1964. It left the British team in the not-to-be-sniffed-at position of fourth in the athletics medal table, behind Jamaica, the United States and Russia.
"It's a weird situation," Van Commenee said. "I don't make the target and then people ask me to stay. I'm flattered. I'll think about it over the next three weeks.
"I have taken advice from the chief executive and the board and a few of my very best friends to go on a holiday first and think about it rationally rather than emotionally.
"I feel like I want to jump on a plane tonight, because I am tired, and so that's what I will do.
"You won't see me at the Birmingham Diamond League meeting [on 26 August]. I'll be lying on my back, probably somewhere in the Caribbean with a cigar.
"What is really important now is what is best for the programme. It's not about what is best for Charles. It's about what is best for British athletics and that's what needs to be looked into very carefully. "
Asked if he would be in any way undermined if he stayed in his post, Van Commenee replied: "Yeah – because that was the whole point of what I said before [about leaving if the target was not met]. Credibility is a big thing for somebody leading a programme. Another big factor for me in agreeing that I should go on a break first is that today we should be celebrating the glory of what the athletes have achieved. There's a time and a place for the future."
Van Commenee denied rumours that his future would be leading the home track-and-field team, Brazil, at the 2016 Games in Rio. "I've heard that Michael Johnson said that on TV," he said. "The answer is no."
Reflecting on the home performance in London, Van Commenee said: "I have mixed emotions. We haven't met the target that was set but at the same time we provided some awesome athletics and some iconic moments that will remain forever with the British nation, which fills me with pride.
"Four gold medals is exceptional and fourth in the medal table is something which we usually don't reach. We had some really good youngsters knocking on the door who produced something but couldn't follow it up.
"Mixed means I am frustrated partially and I am partially embarrassed – especially when it comes to relays. I'm partially very proud too.
"As a sport, we are back on the map – not only because of the performances but also because of how we present ourselves in a more professional manner. So it would be a shame to lose certain people. But, in the end, everyone is replaceable."
Falling short: Britain's medal haul
What he wanted
Charles van Commenee said he wanted eight track-and-field medals from these Games, inclu-ding at least one gold. UK Sport demanded slightly less, asking for "between five and eight medals".
What he got
Team GB delivered six medals, made up of four golds (Mo Farah in 5,000m and 10,000m, Jessica Ennis in the heptathlon and Greg Rutherford in the long jump), one silver (Christine Ohuruogu, 400m) and one bronze (Robbie Grabarz, high jump).
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