Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Record Breaking Athletes Still Have Room to Improve

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Record Breaking Athletes Still Have Room to Improve

Article excerpt

Byline: Marco Giacomelli

UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee is delighted by Britain's best ever medal haul at a European Championships but warns there is "a lot of work to be done" before the London 2012 Olympics.

A silver medal in last night's final race, the men's 4x400metres, plus bronze in the women's event and from Chris Tomlinson in the long jump took the medal tally to 19, eclipsing the 18 achieved in 1990 -although nine golds were won in Split compared to six in Barcelona.

Before arriving in Spain Van Commenee admitted he would be embarrassed not to achieve UK Sport's target of 10-15 medals. That objective was surpassed with a day to spare but he still pinpointed potential areas for improvement.

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

The statistics bear out Van Commenee's concerns with Britain's three field event medals all coming from the men as Phillips Idowu took gold in the triple jump, while Tomlinson's bronze emulated Martyn Bernard's feat in the high jump.

Jessica Ennis won the heptathlon in a championship record, the team had only one pure field event woman, Kate Dennsion, who finished sixth in the pole vault.

After the success of previous days, the final evening proved something of an anti-climax.

The 4x400m men's relay team were edged out by Russia for the gold but their time of 3min 02.25 sec was almost four seconds outside the championship record set by Britain in Split in 1990.

And Martyn Rooney admitted that the squad can expect some flak from former British athletes who had greater success in the event. The 23-year-old Londoner said: "We're going to get slaughtered, there's nothing we can about that. …

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