After Helsinki farce, when it comes to 4 x 100m, GB must stand for Get Better
23:53 GMT, 1 July 2012
Great Britain will not have a 4 x 100 metres women’s relay team at our home Olympic Games.
We couldn’t muster up a side worthy of making the world’s top 16 and, quite rightly, there are no convenient host nation places for our also-rans to skulk into, heads lowered, leaving much more deserving teams out in the cold.
It is sickening.
Farce: Hayley Jones stepped out of her lane and Britain were disqualified
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This isn’t about Hayley Jones stepping out of her lane in the semi-finals of the European Championships in Helsinki on Saturday, prompting Great Britain’s disqualification and slide to No 17 in the world. It should never have come to that.
Why did we allow ourselves to teeter on the edge of the top 16 in the first place
‘I will take all the blame in the world for us not reaching the European final,’ said Jones on Twitter, ‘but I won’t take any for 2 years of missed opportunities.’
These ‘missed opportunities’ are what are truly galling. Don’t give me the old drivel about a lack of funding: it’s a lack of vision; a complete absence of pragmatic thinking — from UK Athletics, but also from the athletes themselves.
UKA head coach Charles van Commenee admitted he ‘basically stopped’ the relay programme two years ago because he ‘didn’t think they were going to be dangerous in London’.
Questions: Charles van Commenee
But it seems to me a one in 16 chance is a marked improvement on the fortunes of our individual female sprinters.
Only two British women have met the ‘A’ qualifying standard of 11.29sec for the Olympic 100m. We haven’t a hope of getting an athlete into the final, let alone actually winning something.
Yet nobody has thought: ‘Hang on, what about the relay’
Individually we have no chance but — together — with enough competition practice and a serious commitment from the athletes, we might just sneak into a relay final… and then anything could happen.
That’s the thing about relays, you know: people have a tendency to drop the baton or run out of their lane.
Great Britain should know that. Our athletes have done it often enough — as demonstrated on Sunday by our bungling men’s sprint relay team, who compounded the farce surrounding the women’s squad by failing to finish their race.
I have been at the United States Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon, for the past few days with double Olympic gold medallist and Sportsmail columnist Daley Thompson.
He was just as disgusted as I was to
hear the news from Helsinki. ‘The relay medals are the easiest ones to
win,’ he said. ‘What our girls and our boys have to realise is they have
no chance of even making finals in the individual sprints but, if they
work hard enough, they could get a medal in the relay.
not about funding. It’s a misnomer even to suggest it. There should be
10 or 12 athletes so desperate to get into the relay team that they are
prepared to pay for themselves.’
Not you as well: The men's 4x100m team dropped the baton in Helsinki
The Americans have a word for athletes who make the team but have no chance of winning a medal. They call them ‘tourists’.
The inference is these people may as well travel to London armed with disposable cameras and fold-away ponchos because they’re just there to make up the numbers.
I think it’s a brilliantly brutal outlook but I’m envious, too.
Come August 9, when the heats of the women’s 4 x 100m relay are taking place in the Olympic Stadium, Britain’s female sprinters will be ‘tourists’ in their own country.
Team GB More like Team (Must) Get Better.
WHAT THEY SAID…
Tweet of the week Iveta Benesova (@IvetaBenesova) expresses her frustration after losing to Britain’s Heather Watson in the first round of the women’s singles at Wimbledon.
‘F WORD GRASS!!!!!!!!’ she tweeted.
It’s safe to say she’s not a fan of that particular surface.
Well beaten: Iveta Benesova lost to Heather Watson at Wimbledon
…AND THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN DOING THIS WEEK
Growing ever more frustrated with the notion of ‘plucky Brits’ at Wimbledon.
The phrase implies overcoming difficult circumstances, which is impossible to comprehend when surveying moneyed, manicured lawns at SW19…
Reading The Dirtiest Race in History by Richard Moore, which looks at the 1988 Olympic 100 metres final: Ben Johnson versus Carl Lewis.
The 2012 version promises to be even more fascinating, with more main players and, hopefully, no major drugs scandal.
Enjoying running on the forest trails of Eugene, the town that spawned America’s obsession with jogging and that famous sports brand with the swoosh. No wonder they call it ‘Track Town USA’.
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
Olympic 100 metres champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce set a new national record of 10.70sec in winning Jamaica’s Olympic trials on Friday night.
In a league of her own: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce set a new national record
Only three women have ever run quicker than the ‘Pocket Rocket’, whose electric start was in stark contrast to that of the defending men’s 100m Olympic champion, Usain Bolt.