An article from the Guardian written just before the Games. It's quite a good summary of CVC's time as head coach, possibly one or two inaccuracies, but gives enough to form an impression on the man and whether he has been successful. Personally, I don't like bullying and public dressing downs as there are better ways to motivate athletes as well creating a more harmonious and friendly structure. He said he would go if we didn't win 8 medals and we didn't plus we had a lot of failures despite the heavy handedness. Other issues behind the scenes may play a part in his decision.
Inside Team GB's Olympic medal factories – No5 athleticsCharles van Commenee will need Team GB's athletes to perform on the track at London 2012 or he will pay with the loss of his job.
.......In September 2008 Van Commenee was duly appointed to oversee UK Athletics' 2012 Olympic campaign, with the highest salary ever paid to a GB coach at £250,000 per year. Sotherton's prediction that he would tyrannise the sport held true as, under the banner of "accountability" and "efficiency", Van Commenee quickly stripped away coaching staff and talent managers – in 2009 he sacked the highly esteemed and popular sprint coach Mike McFarlane – clearly unperturbed by the enemies he made along the way. Even his own appointments were not spared the axe. His first hire was the national throws coach, Britain's double Commonwealth champion Bob Weir, who was sacked just nine months into the role.
Radically restructuring the coaching system Van Commenee recruited his own personnel, many of whom hailed from overseas, including the man known as the "super coach", Dan Pfaff, an American with more than 40 years' experience in the sport, along with Canadians Derek Evely and Kevin Tyler. The philosophy was simple: improve coach quality and education and an improvement in the quality of the athletes' performances will follow. With an added emphasis on avoiding injury, Van Commenee banged the drum for accountability – a new clause added in athletes' funding contracts meant that underperformers would face the consequences.
The Lee Valley Athletics Centre, one of two high-performance centres in the UK, became the powerhouse for these improvements with Van Commenee cajoling and forcing athletes to buy into the new arrangement. The high jumper Martyn Bernard, until then based in Liverpool, was given a simple ultimatum. "Charles told me to move to London or I was off funding," says Bernard, who went on to win a bronze medal at the European Championships in 2010. "Did I mind? No, not at all. He's a direct guy and I like that."
Direct is an understatement for the man nicknamed "Volcano" by Sotherton for his explosive anger. Although Van Commenee says he regrets his most infamous outburst – branding Sotherton a "wimp" after she won bronze rather than silver at the Athens Olympics in 2004 – his yelling ways have not receded since he came to Britain. At the European Championships in Barcelona in 2010 he gave the women's 4x100m relay squad a very public dressing down in the hotel lobby, labelling them a collective "disgrace" in earshot of the national press after they failed to make the final.
If he was prepared to upset athletes in a public hotel lobby, he was prepared to go further still and upset them in the national media. He had been keen to change the public perception of athletes as overpaid underachievers and ordered a moratorium on anyone using injury problems as an excuse for underperforming fearing that the British public would see them, as he put it in his own inimitable way, as "pussies and wankers". But at times his authoritarian stance has backfired.
Last year Van Commenee found himself trading insults with one of Britain's strongest 2012 medal hopes in the triple jumper Phillips Idowu. Van Commenee called the then defending world champion – and all athletes who use Twitter, which equates to most of Team GB – "clowns and attention seekers". Idowu has refused to speak to the head coach ever since. It was also under Van Commenee's watch that Jessica Ennis was allegedly labelled "fat" by a "high-ranking senior official", although the Dutchman denies any knowledge of the incident that caused nationwide outcry.
For some the threats and no-nonsense stance have worked. Robbie Grabarz, the current world No2 high jumper who was a virtual unknown last year, may say that losing his funding in 2011 was not the motivating factor for his meteoric rise in 2012 but his own version of events – commit or quit – mirrors that stark rhetoric that characterises the head coach's reign.
Certainly one of Van Commenee's most divisive policies has been to recruit foreign athletes – crudely labelled "plastic Brits" in the tabloid press – specifically to compete in 2012. Six foreign athletes have been nationalised since Beijing: Cuban-born triple jumper Yamilé Aldama; long jumpers Julian Reid of Jamaica and Shara Proctor from Anguilla; sprinter Delano Williams from the Turks and Caicos islands; and hurdler Tiffany Porter and 400m runner Shana Cox, who are both from the US. Despite the negative publicity, Van Commenee's judgment appears to have been rather shrewd, with Aldama, Porter and Proctor all tipped to win individual medals in London this summer, while Cox will provide a boost in the women's 4x400m chances.
How successful an impact Van Commenee's policies have had on the sport is not an easy theme to assess. On the one hand Britain are in a strong position, expected to meet their target of eight medals including one gold which would equate to Great Britain's best performance at any non-boycotted Games in a century. But how many of those medals will be directly down to Van Commenee's regime?
With the two not even on speaking terms, the Dutchman could not claim an Idowu medal as his own, while other British stars maintain a certain autonomy from the UKA set-up. Mo Farah, a potential gold medallist in both the 5,000m and 10,000m, is based in Portland, Oregon, while the heptathlete Ennis does not attend UKA training camps and has her own team around her in Sheffield.
The jury is still out on Van Commenee and Pfaff's "super group" project at Lee Valley. The long jumper Greg Rutherford is No1 in the world right now, albeit with a modest distance of 8.35m, but the real test is whether he can remain in one piece this summer having injured himself in qualifying at the world championships last year. There have been vast improvements in the field events – the rise of the novice discus thrower Lawrence Okoye to fourth in the world this year, or the pole vault newcomer Holly Bleasdale – which hint at a brighter future while, should they win medals. Proctor and Aldama are instant fixes rather than home-nurtured talent, although the latter has lived and trained in the UK for 11 years.
Van Commenee has maintained a tough stance on standards, routinely demanding a higher qualifying mark for major championships than the world governing body and this has left unfilled places on the team, a significant decision because medals at previous Olympics have come from outside those predicted. In 2008 neither Germaine Mason, who won silver in the high jump or Tasha Danvers, who took bronze in the 400m hurdles, were tipped for a podium finish. The Olympic double gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes, among others, has strongly criticised Van Commenee for leaving empty spaces in the British team at a home Games.
The tough-love approach has not always worked. Shouting at the women's 4x100m team in 2010 had little effect given that two years later they again failed to perform in the same competition, thereby failing to make the top 15 in the world and not qualifying for the London Games.
Van Commenee routinely resists "expectations" and "predictions", a dark stare greeting any journalist green enough to ask, but he believes the team can meet their target potentially rising to a total of 15 Olympic medals, should the likes of Okoye, Rutherford and the two 4x400m relay teams shine through. Should he fail, then the master of accountability has already stated that he will quit his job.http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/ju ... al-factory