Team GB’s five-medal haul at Qatar World Athletics Championships is the WORST since 2005

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Adam Gemili was one of several Team GB stars to narrowly miss out on medals in Qatar
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While Sebastian Coe was scratching around on Sunday for ways to sell these World Championships as a roaring success, the folk leading the British team found themselves unable to spin the same yarn.

In the end, with the championships now over, it came down to how you interpret low numbers. The IAAF have tried to pass off their crowd figures by claiming this bizarre trip to the desert will win new hearts and minds, but Neil Black’s team had less flexibility – a missed target is a missed target.

They were set a goal of seven to nine medals by UK Sport, as first revealed by Sportsmail in February, and when the music stopped on Sunday, they were on five. In other words, their worst haul since 2005.

Adam Gemili was one of several Team GB stars to narrowly miss out on medals in Qatar

Team GB also missed out on a medal in the women's 4x400 metre relay after Jamaica's appeal

Team GB also missed out on a medal in the women’s 4×400 metre relay after Jamaica’s appeal

The women’s 4x400m relay team finished fourth on the final evening, having initially won an appeal against Jamaica to take bronze, only to then lose a counter-appeal, and later the corresponding men’s quartet botched a switch between Toby Harries and Rabah Yousif, meaning they didn’t finish the final.

It will put severe pressure on Black, the UK Athletics performance director, at a time when he is already facing serious questions over the 2015 review that cleared Mo Farah to keep working with Alberto Salazar.

That will be his biggest challenge in forthcoming conversations with the new CEO and chairman at UKA in Zara Hyde Peters and Chris Clark respectively. But the medals will not be the assistance they may have been.

Team GB ended the World Championships in seventh place after picking up just five medals

Team GB ended the World Championships in seventh place after picking up just five medals

Black said: ‘There’s a lot to feel really good about. But the reality is the medal tally is not that which we would have wanted.

‘It could be better, it should be better. We’ll obviously be talking with UK Sport. Our relationship with UK Sport is really positive. It’s a working together, it’s reviewing, planning, what have we learnt, what are we going to do about it, how do we convert the nearlies into medals.’

The highs of the Championships from a British perspective are easy to spot – Dina Asher-Smith stole the show, while Katarina Johnson-Thompson pulled off an incredible result in taking the heptathlon title. When set against the fact there was only one individual medallist at London 2017 – Farah – that is progress.

There were some success stories, led by Dina Asher-Smith and Katerina Johnson-Thompson

There were some success stories, led by Dina Asher-Smith and Katerina Johnson-Thompson

Dina Asher-Smith was Team GB's shining light with one gold and two silvers on the track

Dina Asher-Smith was Team GB’s shining light with one gold and two silvers on the track

Katerina Johnson-Thompson won gold in the women's heptathlon with a stunning display

Katerina Johnson-Thompson won gold in the women’s heptathlon with a stunning display

But just as Black pointed to the relays that bailed him out in London – four medals in two days – here they managed only two, with silvers in the men’s and women’s.

In the post-mortem, it ought to be of concern that so many of the athletes touted to step up from London 2017 failed to do so. Black made a play in the aftermath of that home event of the 19 finishes between fourth and eighth and what it signified in terms of potential medallists in waiting. Of them, only Asher-Smith stepped up to medal and, more worryingly, the number of finishers between four and eight in Doha dropped to 11.

There were good performances that didn’t yield podiums – Adam Gemili, Holly Bradshaw, Callum, Jake Wightman and Laura Muir among them.

But athletes seen as fringe contenders such as Andrew Pozzi, Lynsey Sharp, Morgan Lake and two of the relay teams fell well short. So did far too many others.

UK Athletics performance director, Neil Black, won't be smiling after missing medal target

UK Athletics performance director, Neil Black, won’t be smiling after missing medal target

As a whole you can ask hard questions of where this team stands, with £27m funding for the Olympic cycle and Tokyo 2020 only nine months away. The answers might not be convincing, but for spin they might use the IAAF as an example.

The international governing body have been saved to extent by strong crowds in the final few days and will point to them as justification of a so-called mission to bring new fans to the sport. But that does not excuse the shambolic sight of empty victory laps for both 100m champions in the early days, nor does it quantify what proportion of the inflated crowds were bussed in spectators on freebies.

Despite the further farce of the marathon runners dropping like flies after midnight in a dangerous climate for distance running, Coe was defiant on Sunday.

‘It is pretty clear to us that on athlete performance this is the best world championships that we have ever had,’ he said. 

Clutching at straws, really. The mistake should not be repeated.

 



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While Sebastian Coe was scratching around on Sunday for ways to sell these World Championships as a roaring success, the folk leading the British team found themselves unable to spin the same yarn.

In the end, with the championships now over, it came down to how you interpret low numbers. The IAAF have tried to pass off their crowd figures by claiming this bizarre trip to the desert will win new hearts and minds, but Neil Black’s team had less flexibility – a missed target is a missed target.

They were set a goal of seven to nine medals by UK Sport, as first revealed by Sportsmail in February, and when the music stopped on Sunday, they were on five. In other words, their worst haul since 2005.

Adam Gemili was one of several Team GB stars to narrowly miss out on medals in Qatar

Team GB also missed out on a medal in the women's 4x400 metre relay after Jamaica's appeal

Team GB also missed out on a medal in the women’s 4×400 metre relay after Jamaica’s appeal

The women’s 4x400m relay team finished fourth on the final evening, having initially won an appeal against Jamaica to take bronze, only to then lose a counter-appeal, and later the corresponding men’s quartet botched a switch between Toby Harries and Rabah Yousif, meaning they didn’t finish the final.

It will put severe pressure on Black, the UK Athletics performance director, at a time when he is already facing serious questions over the 2015 review that cleared Mo Farah to keep working with Alberto Salazar.

That will be his biggest challenge in forthcoming conversations with the new CEO and chairman at UKA in Zara Hyde Peters and Chris Clark respectively. But the medals will not be the assistance they may have been.

Team GB ended the World Championships in seventh place after picking up just five medals

Team GB ended the World Championships in seventh place after picking up just five medals

Black said: ‘There’s a lot to feel really good about. But the reality is the medal tally is not that which we would have wanted.

‘It could be better, it should be better. We’ll obviously be talking with UK Sport. Our relationship with UK Sport is really positive. It’s a working together, it’s reviewing, planning, what have we learnt, what are we going to do about it, how do we convert the nearlies into medals.’

The highs of the Championships from a British perspective are easy to spot – Dina Asher-Smith stole the show, while Katarina Johnson-Thompson pulled off an incredible result in taking the heptathlon title. When set against the fact there was only one individual medallist at London 2017 – Farah – that is progress.

There were some success stories, led by Dina Asher-Smith and Katerina Johnson-Thompson

There were some success stories, led by Dina Asher-Smith and Katerina Johnson-Thompson

Dina Asher-Smith was Team GB's shining light with one gold and two silvers on the track

Dina Asher-Smith was Team GB’s shining light with one gold and two silvers on the track

Katerina Johnson-Thompson won gold in the women's heptathlon with a stunning display

Katerina Johnson-Thompson won gold in the women’s heptathlon with a stunning display

But just as Black pointed to the relays that bailed him out in London – four medals in two days – here they managed only two, with silvers in the men’s and women’s.

In the post-mortem, it ought to be of concern that so many of the athletes touted to step up from London 2017 failed to do so. Black made a play in the aftermath of that home event of the 19 finishes between fourth and eighth and what it signified in terms of potential medallists in waiting. Of them, only Asher-Smith stepped up to medal and, more worryingly, the number of finishers between four and eight in Doha dropped to 11.

There were good performances that didn’t yield podiums – Adam Gemili, Holly Bradshaw, Callum, Jake Wightman and Laura Muir among them.

But athletes seen as fringe contenders such as Andrew Pozzi, Lynsey Sharp, Morgan Lake and two of the relay teams fell well short. So did far too many others.

UK Athletics performance director, Neil Black, won't be smiling after missing medal target

UK Athletics performance director, Neil Black, won’t be smiling after missing medal target

As a whole you can ask hard questions of where this team stands, with £27m funding for the Olympic cycle and Tokyo 2020 only nine months away. The answers might not be convincing, but for spin they might use the IAAF as an example.

The international governing body have been saved to extent by strong crowds in the final few days and will point to them as justification of a so-called mission to bring new fans to the sport. But that does not excuse the shambolic sight of empty victory laps for both 100m champions in the early days, nor does it quantify what proportion of the inflated crowds were bussed in spectators on freebies.

Despite the further farce of the marathon runners dropping like flies after midnight in a dangerous climate for distance running, Coe was defiant on Sunday.

‘It is pretty clear to us that on athlete performance this is the best world championships that we have ever had,’ he said. 

Clutching at straws, really. The mistake should not be repeated.

 



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