Webb to quit training camp over facilities

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The Independent Online

Shirley Webb, the ballerina-turned-hammer-thrower, is planning to cut short her stay at the British Olympic training camp here in Cyprus because of facilities she describes as "hopeless".

Shirley Webb, the ballerina-turned-hammer-thrower, is planning to cut short her stay at the British Olympic training camp here in Cyprus because of facilities she describes as "hopeless".

Some £800,000 has been spent on the Team GB headquarters, but Webb has found herself chalking a circle at the T-junction of a road and throwing into a field of wheat stubble after breaking two hammers within 10 minutes of starting her preparation at the designated throwing area at Peyia, near the British team headquarters at Coral Beach.

"I feel upset and let down," the 22-year-old Scottish record holder said. "They've spent a lot of money on a swimming pool and a running track but the throwing facilities are hopeless. I should have been told what this was like."

Webb spent three hours driving around the island on Monday, searching for an alternative site with her coach, Chris Black, who finished sixth in the men's hammer at the Montreal Olympics in 1976. They tried an RAF base, but the thunder of low-flying Tornadoes and the absence of a cage persuaded them to look elsewhere. And then, after one throw at a football stadium the groundsman took a look at the hole in the pitch and asked them to move on.

They eventually stopped at a T-junction, marked a throwing circle with chalk, placed stones on top of it, and - with Black conducting any traffic - Webb took her practice throws into a wheat field.

"It's no way to prepare two weeks before the Olympics," Black said, after another training session at the junction yesterday. "We have reported the fact that we are not happy but I've been around long enough to know nobody cares about Shirley's event."

Both coach and athlete were annoyed that Webb was not among the group of British athletes invited to inspect the facilities and train in Paphos in May. Webb is now considering leaving the team base on Friday, a week earlier than scheduled, so that she can use training facilities in Athens ahead of her qualifying round in the Olympic Stadium on 22 August.

"We've got 58 athletes in the team and you're always going to get one who will be disgruntled," Max Jones, head coach of the British track and field team, said. "We are trying to find alternatives for Shirley. One possibility is to get Shirley and Chris into Athens, so they can train up to the 19th [after which time the unaccredited Black would be denied access to the training track]. Another is to go to Limassol, where there is a cage, and putting Shirley and Chris up in a hotel."

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