Departing Charles van Commenee on Phillips Idowu and Twitter

The head of UK Athletics discusses the breakdown in his relationship with Phillips Idowu

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Is Charles van Commenee not preparing to leave Britain with one big regret? After all, the breakdown of his relationship with Phillips Idowu after the triple jumper announced his withdrawal from last year’s European Team Championships on Twitter left a bitter taste that lingered on this summer right up to the London Olympics

Van Commenee collects his thoughts and chooses his words carefully. “I’ll make an analogy,” he says. “As a leader, it’s like you’re driving the train. I drove the train for four years and as a leader you want to keep as many people as possible onboard.

“But I’ve got about 150 people on the train - athletes, staff and others. It’s impossible to keep everybody on the train for four years. Now, after the steering wheel has been taken over by my successors, I look over my shoulder and I still think 95 per cent is on.

“But people who do not want to be helped, you cannot help. As a leader you cannot help people who are self-destructive either... I think I’ve said enough.”

Van Commenee, however,would like to set the record straight on one matter: his declared disdain for Twitter. “I could see in the Arab Spring that it’s not only for nonsense,” he says.  “It had a serious contribution to developments there.”