• London Olympics 2012

UK Athletics chief Van Commenee quits

ESPN staff
September 11, 2012
Charles van Commenee insisted that 'everyone is replaceable' towards the end of the Olympics © PA Photos

Charles van Commenee has quit his role as head coach of UK Athletics after failing to deliver the eight track and field medals he targeted at London 2012.

The Dutchman, famous for his uncompromising attitude to failure, saw the British athletics team win six medals in the Olympic Stadium. The medal haul included four golds; Van Commenee had anticipated winning just one.

In spite of this, the 54-year-old has announced that he will depart following the end of his contract in December, with a new team to be announced shortly.

Van Commenee joined UKA chief executive Niels de Vos to confirm the details of his departure.

"Niels and I have worked hard to implement accountability as it is vital to the culture of elite sport," Van Commenee said. "Whilst I am thankful for kind comments in recent weeks, my decision has the interests of British athletics at its heart in sustaining this culture.

"The future looks promising with the talent that is about to break through, but now it needs the new energy and approach by the new leadership team through to 2017."

The announcement ends Van Commenee's four-year reign, a time in UK Athletics that will be remembered for the pains and gains resulting from the higher standards set by the Dutchman.

While the success of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics will stand as his legacy on the track, away from it he was notorious for his uncompromising attitude to athletes' commitment, most recently becoming embroiled in a running feud with triple jumper Phillips Idowu.

"Charles has done an excellent job preparing British Athletics for the 2012 Olympic Games," De Vos added. "We have spoken daily for the last four years and have discussed the post-2012 position almost as often.

"He and I have always been aware of the possibility of him leaving and we are confident that our long term plan will enable us to continue building on the success we achieved in London. There is no doubt Charles has helped to transform our culture, and we can now look forward to further success under the leadership of a new team."

The news will come as a disappointment but not a shock to UK Athletics following Van Commenee's comments on the last day of the Olympics, when Team GB's medal tally was confirmed.

"If I hold athletes and coaches accountable every day, how could I work over the next four years if I am not held accountable myself?" asked Van Commenee. "It's a no-brainer. I never understand when people who have failed stay in jobs, as in politics and football."

While British athletes may have fallen short in their bid to land eight medals, London 2012 was the showcase for arguably the greatest moment for British athletics in the sport's history as Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford all became OIympic champions in the space of an hour on August 4.

Great Britain went on to finish fourth behind the United States, Russia and Jamaica in the athletics medal table.

"I have mixed emotions," Van Commenee added in August. "We haven't met the target that was set but at the same time we provided some awesome athletics and some iconic moments that will remain forever with the British nation, which fills me with pride.

"As a sport, we are back on the map, not only because of the performances but also because of how we present ourselves in a more professional manner. It would be a shame to lose certain people but, in the end, everyone is replaceable."

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