Last Updated: July 28, 2011 1:36pm
Charles van Commenee fears GB stars have much work to do
Charles van Commenee has warned Britain's track and field athletes they are not ready for the London Olympics.
The head coach of UK Athletics believes they need every one of the 365 days remaining before the opening ceremony to make the necessary improvements if Great Britain are to reach the target of eight medals, including at least one gold.
Van Commenee reckons the British team need at least 15 athletes capable of making the medal podium to hit their target.
"If everybody is fit then yes we might be ok, but that will never happen so we need a few more," said van Commenee. "We are not ready to do the Games now. We need those 12 months.
"We are not ready to do the Games now. We need those 12 months."
Charles van Commenee Quotes of the week
"I started this job two and a half years ago. I knew from the start that was not one day too many. Three and a half years is a very short time. We still have athletes underperforming at the moment. We need those 12 months to turn things around.
"We need all the athletes to be in shape. We still have athletes underperforming in 2011."
He cites 400m runners, Michael Bingham and Martyn Rooney, who won silver and bronze respectively at the European Championships last year but have struggled to match that form since.
"If they would run the times they are doing now next year that is trouble," said van Commenee. "That should not happen, they should have run faster by now. We are not perfect yet."
Idowu has a realistic chance of winning gold in London and van Commenee believes if a strained relationship persists it will have no bearing on that.
Van Commenee said: "Elite athletes have the ability to focus on their own business no matter what noise or people are around and also what relationship they have with their fiancee, their parents or their head coach. They are focused on jumping far and the rest is not relevant.
"I don't have a buddy-buddy relationship with athletes. With almost all athletes and staff members I have a businesslike relationship.
"It is not a friendship or anything. As a young coach I used to make that mistake. I was quite close to a couple of athletes and it was not as effective as I was at a later age.
"You are not objective any more and you find it incredibly difficult to make changes. If you keep a distance you probably see things clearer. Call it clinical, that is a good word. I have a clinical relationship with the people I work with and a warmer relationship with my friends."
There is no doubt van Commenee is the toughest of task masters, one who has little time for nervous or uncertain athletes.
"Athletes who are nervous are simply not focused enough," is van Commenee's philosophy. "They have to upskill themselves by focusing better. If you are not focused there is brain space to be nervous. You shouldn't have that. I find it unprofessional when athletes are nervous."
He will be impressing as much on the British team at an athletes team meeting in Loughborough on November 12 and 13 which has been put aside exclusively to thrash out Olympic issues as well as several test events in the run-up to next year's Games.
"We need winners and Jessica is one of the very few. Winners are very rare. Having two or three winners is exceptional"
Charles van Commenee Quotes of the week
Not that Idowu or heptathlete Jessica Ennis will set foot in the Olympic stadium. They ducked out of the stadium tour for athletes six weeks ago, preferring to reserve the "buzz" they hope to receive from entering the Olympic stadium in Stratford to inspire them at the Games themselves.
Ennis, however, remains the shining light of the British team, favourite for gold and Van Commenee is relying on the Sheffield girl to drag others to the medal podium.
"Success breeds success," says van Commenee. "When Jenny Meadows won bronze in Berlin (in the 800m at the world championships) two years ago all the athletes in the team got inspired. 'Wow, Jenny Meadows can do this, I have a shot too'. You need successful athletes for other athletes to see that is achievable.
"If we only had athletes who do personal bests but don't win anything that is not good. We need winners and Jessica is one of the very few. Winners are very rare. You have 230 something countries competing and about 50 countries win medals. Having two or three winners is exceptional."
Van Commenee is hoping home advantage will also kick in with the excitement and anticipation building over the next 12 months.
He added: "We have had that buzz for six years. Most countries start focusing two years out. That's a big advantage."
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