What I am about to write is from a position of not really knowing the full story or any of the key facts (probably this could be said about much of the thoughts recorded in this blog!) So British athletics have a really big problem. They are crap. This is totally unfair as all the athletes are trying their hardest against the best in the world, yet their results are very poor when compared to other British sports teams at the Olympics. (I might have to eat my words as the athletics is still being contested but somehow I doubt it)
Yes the odd athlete has won a gold medal here and there but the overall performance has been poor when compared to the performance of virtually every other British team at the Olympics. That is the problem with repeated success, what was once outstanding is now common place. Laura Trott has now won the most gold medals of any British woman at the Olympics and it is uncertain whether she will get a Damehood. Kelly Holmes won two gold medals in 2004 and she was showered with awards, including a Damehood. However in 2004 athletics was still the premier sport for Britain at the Olympics but now? That has to be cycling. Athletics are now even being threatened by the gymnastic team in terms of medals won. So why is that we still hear of British athletes still scraping through as fastest losers or failing to qualify for a final? I have no idea but the argument that they are competing with the whole world rather than those countries that can afford the velodrome, horses, boats, etc. doesn’t really hang together when you compare and contrast the gymnastics team to the athletics team – the gymnasts seem to have found a winning formula – why not the athletes?
I have no real answers to these questions other than to point out the obvious – when you are successful repeatedly your failings become even more obvious and so far the athletics is just that – failing. I guess this this failure is now even being reflected in the TV coverage, the cycling gets Clare Balding and the athletics gets Gabby Logan (again this is hugely unfair on Logan who is an accomplished broadcaster – that is until compared to Balding). Athletics are in big trouble when compared to the other sports and they need to step up their game or get their funding cut with their money given to sports that will deliver more medals for the pound at the Olympics. This is very harsh but it is the price of success, plucky failure doesn’t just cut it anymore – just ask the Basketball team. In 2012 they failed to meet their goals and the funding was cut. I know this is an unfair comparison but if you are going to expect success then not being fast enough to get to the final race just isn’t good enough.
I hope that British athletics does get its act together but it is now time for some Michael Johnson home truths rather than simpering complacent Colin Jackson excuses (unfair on Jackson but where is the modern Colin Jackson in British athletics?). They are not getting enough medals and they are certainly not the premier British team at the Olympics – that is one of the major problems with success and I suspect that athletics are going the learn that the hard way after Rio.
PS – I did use unfair a lot in this!
PPS – Yesterday I stated I couldn’t find Not Vital’s entry on Wikipedia well I just wasn’t looking in the right place, or should that be neither Google nor Wikipedia’s own search engine wasn’t. It turns out that Not Vital does have a wiki entry but in German so may I say sorry to the German people for Google and Wikipedia’s failure as well as my my own. So if you want to see Not Vital’s wiki entry it can be found at: