Team GB stands to be awarded three more medals in athletics from the 2008 Olympics, and Collins is pleased to see the athletes getting belated recognition
Former UK Athletics performance director Dave Collins says the criticism received after Team GB’s perceived underachievement at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which ultimately resulted in him getting the sack, still sits uneasily with him, particularly in the aftermath of disqualifications which see Britain stand to gain three more medals from the Games.
Collins was given the chop after GB brought home just four medals from China, one less than the target of five set by UK Sport, though disqualifications as a result of doping in the men’s and women’s 4x400m and the women’s javelin mean the country’s relay squads and British record-holder Goldie Sayers are first in line to receive bronze medals if the International Olympic Committee (IOC) grants the reallocation of medals.
The former head coach, now a professor at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and director of its Institute of Coaching and Performance, said he’s pleased to see the Class of 2008 finally getting the recognition he believes they deserved at the time.
“The first thing it makes me feel is really pleased for the athletes, coaches and support staff. It was a good performance. We thought going in there we were going to do well, and it’s nice to see them get the recognition,” Collins said.
“It does [sit difficultly]. In a big sport like athletics people are always going to have opinions. What frustrated me was those opinions were expressed – not just after the Games, before as well – and I don’t think people took the trouble to consider them carefully, or even give us the right to reply. It was what it was. The great thing is now to see the athletes recognised and the coaches recognised for all the hard work they did.”
Christine Ohuruogu was the only athlete to win gold in Beijing as she took the 400m title to add to her 2007 World Championships win, while triple jumper Phillips Idowu and high jumper Germaine Mason took silvers, and 400m hurdler Tasha Danvers won bronze.
Aside from the four medals won contemporaneously and the three others likely to be made official, Team GB’s athletics squad achieved 10 more top-eight finishes; an achievement the UCLan professor believes is indicative of the progress shown leading up to London 2012, particularly off the back of a disappointing 2005 World Championships shortly after he took over.
Collins said: “We saw it as a positive building point towards London. I think we’d done well. Clearly the Helsinki Worlds in 2005 was a low point. I felt we’d been building steadily, and frankly the results we got at the European Championships were good [11 medals – one gold, five silver, five bronze]. All the signs were positive. I’m just disappointed personally we couldn’t complete the mission.
“I think the number of season’s bests, personal bests and top eights we got were good. I was always less interested in the medals table, and more by a points table of performances. The points table, but also the number of season’s bests and personal bests we got, told us if we got it right. And we did. I think the big thing is getting it ‘righter-er’, and that was the big frustration that we didn’t get to.”