Grant fears for British prospects if former stars are ignored

Dalton Grant has called on UK Athletics to make use of previous generations
Dalton Grant has called on UK Athletics to make use of previous generations
8 September 2017 3:30PM

British athletics has grown complacent and is missing out on a wealth of coaching experience by ignoring its former stars, according to ex-Olympic high jumper Dalton Grant.

Britain managed six medals at this summer's World Championships, with only two of those coming in individual events as Mo Farah clinched gold in the 10,000 metres and silver in the 5,000m.

That total met the lower end of UK Sport's target of six to eight and UK Athletics chief executive Niels de Vos defended Britain's performance on Tuesday.

De Vos argued the further 19 athletes that finished between fourth and eighth indicates potential for the future and dismissed claims made by the likes of Greg Rutherford that this country's coaching needs to be improved.

Grant, however, a British high jumper who competed at three Olympic Games, has hit back, insisting the current crop should be drawing more upon their predecessors' experience.

“We always had British coaches bringing British athletes through,” Grant told Press Association Sport.

“We're looking for athletes to take over from Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford, Jess Ennis-Hill and in the history of our sport, even when we had less money, we always had that next generation coming through.

“Seb Coe, Steve Smith, Daley Thompson – these guys have all passed the baton on but now they've cut away former athletes that have been there that and done it, that can mentor these young athletes.

“Former British athletes can coach as well. What has happened to our sport and our coaches being developed? Now they feel they're not wanted and they're walking away.”

Ennis-Hill's former coach Toni Minichello has led calls for more support to be given to British coaches while Rutherford, who won long jump gold at London 2012, has said too many athletes are now looking abroad.

De Vos contended he saw “no connection” between athletes missing out on medals at the World Championships and a lack of elite coaching but Grant believes a degree of complacency has crept in.

“We have got complacent and my worry is the dip we've seen will get worse,” Grant said.

“We're talking about fourth places but that is the difference at the top level and mentors can make that difference.

“This the opinion of people in the sport. I can tell you I know various athletes are upset because they want a change.

“It's the same as people coming fourth and being happy with that as good enough. It's not good enough.

“I was surprised at what was said because it's an elitist mindset. It's not good enough. We need to sit down collectively and assess what went wrong.

“When you've got people like Greg Rutherford and myself, Darren Campbell, Katharine Merry, all saying there's a problem with the coaches, clearly there's a problem.”