Van Commenee hails record Great Britain medal haul

Press Association
Monday 02 August 2010 11:01 BST
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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee hailed Great Britain's biggest ever medal haul at a European Championships as "very encouraging", with less than two years to go to London 2012.

A silver medal in the final event, the men's 4x400m, plus bronze in the women's event and from Chris Tomlinson in the long jump took the medal tally to 19, eclipsing the previous best of 18 achieved in 1990 - although nine golds were won in Split compared to six in Barcelona.

Van Commenee, who had admitted he would have been embarrassed not to achieve UK Sport's target of 10-15 medals, ultimately saw that objective surpassed with a day to spare but did sound a note of caution.

"Overall it's very encouraging for the next few years. Quite a few athletes stepped up a level," the 52-year-old Dutchman said.

"But there is a lot of work to be done. We have too many athletes at home with injuries. That needs to be addressed. We don't have enough athletes across the events, especially the field events, especially the women."

Asked about his role in the success, Van Commenee insisted it was "minor", but added: "It is quite simple. Remind them (athletes) what it takes to win, to be successful.

"It's about taking accountability for successes and also for failure in order to learn from that. It's not only with the athletes, it is all the staff, the medical staff, the coaching staff, the people in the office."

After the success of previous days, the final evening proved something of an anticlimax, with Martyn Rooney admitting the 4x400m squad can expect to be criticised by former British athletes who had greater success in the event.

"We're going to get slaughtered, there's nothing we can about that," the 23-year-old Londoner said. "Those guys won relays every day of the week so we've got to get back into that groove and show the old guys we've still got it.

"I fully expect the banter and the grief."

Russia won the women's race in commanding fashion, with Britain's Nicola Sanders, 800m specialist Marilyn Okoro and Lee McConnell combining to hand the baton to Perri Shakes-Drayton in third place for the final leg.

The 400m hurdles bronze medallist almost caught Germany for silver down the home straight and said: "That was good. Coming here no-one expected me to get a medal and I got a medal and then another one in the relay."

Tomlinson had earlier been denied silver by just one centimetre in the final round of the long jump.

A jump of 8.23m in the fourth round looked good enough to secure second place behind Germany's Christian Reif (8.47m), before France's Kafetien Gomis followed four straight fouls with a leap of 8.24m on his last attempt.

"I jumped probably some of the best jumps of my life but unfortunately the big massive jump never came," said Tomlinson, who went over eight metres four times in six attempts.

"I guess I still see myself as a work in progress and I'm sure I've got something to build on there. I've probably got to look at that and say that's the best jumping I've ever produced."

Lisa Dobriskey was unable to add to the medal haul, finishing fourth in the final of the 1,500m which was won by Spain's Nuria Fernandez. France's Hind Dehiba was second and another Spaniard, Natalia Rodriguez, third, with Britain's Steph Twell and Hannah England seventh and 10th respectively.

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