UKA sets 2012 Olympic challenge
April 13, 2005
UK ATHLETICS' new performance team has set the ambitious goal of getting British athletes into 50 per cent of finals at the 2012 Olympics, writes Jason Henderson.
If achieved, this would be a significant improvement on recent Games. Britain had athletes in 28 per cent of finals at the 2004 Athens Olympics and in 39 per cent of finals at Sydney 2000. A finalist is classed as someone reaching the top eight of an event.
The target was announced by Zara Hyde Peters at the Congress Weekend at the NEC, Birmingham, last Sunday. Hyde Peters was appointed earlier this winter as UKA's director of athlete development and works closely with another key UKA appointment, new performance director Dave Collins.
Describing the plan as a "challenge", she said: "We want to be consistently good, to be regarded as the leading European nation and one of the top five in the world.
"To have an athlete in 50 per cent of finals at the 2012 Olympics would be a great challenge. And as a sport this represents a huge stretch goal."
Dave Moorcroft, UKA's chief executive, added: "Rather than a pre-occupation with medals, if we try to get athletes in more finals we have no doubt it will result in more medals."
Key to the plan, though, is whether London wins the right to stage the 2012 Games. The decision made by the International Olympic Committee on July 6 in Singapore will determine how much money the British government spends on developing sport in the next seven years.
With this vital decision creeping closer, the Congress Weekend saw one of the London 2012 committee members, Chris Baillieu, outline the bid team's vision and the ex-rower explained how the 2012 Olympic Stadium would be used for athletics after the Games.
In addition, the Congress Weekend featured separate clubs' and officials' conferences, plus the inaugural UKA Awards dinner (see page 8).
Other speakers included football referee Keith Hackett, who showed how technological advances were being used to help officials in his sport.
Ian Lole, from British Triathlon, explained how a membership scheme successfully operates within his sport.
The weekend was upbeat, with stirring speeches and much opportunity for athletes, coaches, officials and teachers to discuss various issues. But while the strengths of the sport were emphasised, a story from UKA president Lynn Davies left delegates in no doubt that athletics Spring 2005 report is 'doing well, but could do better'.
Davies said: "I teach athletics at UWIC but am often showing 18-year-olds how to do triple jump or throw the javelin for the first time in their lives. Is this a national dilemma? I think it is."