Old forum > Moscow 2013 - controvsersial¬†question

It all seems a bit quiet on the forum at present so here's a question to provoke some debate. Will a male athlete of non-African/afrocaribbean descent win a track medal at Moscow 2013? Gaylan Rupp? Dai Greene? there won't be many! I thought about this last night at the seminar in Sophia Gardens when the 'grumpy old me' were berating the lack of competitve young Welsh athletes making it to international level. One factor not raised was that unless you are an athletics geek [i include myself as one] you won't realise that despite the mass media coverage suggesting you have to be Jamaican to be a sprinter or African to be distance runner, the time Steve Jones, Cram, Ovett & Coe and others used to run would still get you medals. I wonder if since the 80's when the Africans started dominating middle and long distance [Said Aquita, Nouredine Morcelli, Gabresallasie, etc], young Brits have sub-consciously been put off distance running, assuming 2i'll never be able to beat the Africans, i'm going to play another sport!" Just to clarify i mean absolutely no disrespect to Brits of African descent, its merely another observation as to why we see so few white Brits challenging the times of the previous generation? anyway thoughts please! and enjoy watching Moscow, i shall be glued from 6am tomorrow!

August 7, 2013 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Sage

I would suspect that it's less a case of being put off than it is the draw of other things. Even Mo Farah - a Brit of African descent, no less - wanted to be a footballer. (Actually, he wanted to play for Arsenal, but we'll pretend they're a proper football club for the sake of argument.)

Becoming a successful footballer certainly leads to more fame and fortune which 'kids today' and, let's be honest, kids yesterday find attractive. It wouldn't be right to lay all of the blame at the doors of Wembley Stadium (although Jerome will probably try that later).

I presume that the usual suspects were also mentioned in the debate...
Smaller range of sports included in PE at school due to the lack of time devoted to the subject, facilities, equipment, suitably trained/motivated teachers.
Perceived or real cost, availability, elitism of and access to sports clubs outside school,
and so on.

From an inspiration perspective, the high profile successes of the UK track and field athletes at the London 2012 olympics and paralympics and the success of the games themselves, provided an excellent opportunity to encourage the young and not so young (of whatever ethnicity) to get involved. The challenge is for us as a country to make the most of that opportunity.

August 7, 2013 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Hitchen

I am still disappointed that Ben True (USA) just missed out on going to Moscow ... I think if the 10km ends up being a slowish tactical race till say half way then I think he would have gone close to medalling.

I also wish Craig Mottram (Aus) would give up on athletics and return to triathlons - as I think he would be able to medal in Rio 2016 but that is another story ....

August 7, 2013 at 3:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterSean Smith

It's a great question, Rob. I was fascinated in your describing yourself as "grumpy old me".
Whilst I felt very honoured last night to share a stage with some wonderful names from the past who achieved far more than I did, I wondered how we would be perceived by a younger audience.
Whilst no one sets out in sport to earn a living, it's not difficult to see why many aspiring athletes of today are switching to "less developed events" like triathlon. Of course, triathlon has now been going a while, but compared to endurance running it is still in its infancy.
I still like to believe that British-born athletes can challenge for medals in endurance events - and that we have something to learn from the American model.
Would Mo Farah be in the position he is today if he hadn't gone to Alberto Salazar? I think not.
I do, however, feel sorry in a sense for today's athletes who are firstly subjected to being compared with the standards set in the 1970s and 1980s, and the fact that there are so fewer athletes who are prepared to train with the same intensity as the likes of Steve Jones - meaning that there are comparatively less elite athletes to train with. The sport, like life in general, is simply different now.

August 7, 2013 at 4:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterMick McGeoch

Factors that could improve things are:

PE/Sport back on the school curriculum and encourage lifestyle changes, such as walking to school and playing outdoors

National Governing Bodies ensuring they are out there, talent spotting and providing best quality coaching and care for children and young adults to bring them up to elite standard / medalists.

Coverage by TV / Media. The focus is too much on football and rugby. Whenever we get athletics coverage it's mostly commentators' chat and not enough action. Plus there needs to be better coverage of female sport.

Also, I'd like to see prize categories available for British athletes, alongside the prizes for overall winners.

August 7, 2013 at 5:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterAmanda Thompson

As Mick says no critical mass. Isnt there something like 200 men running under 2:20 in Kenya in any year? Think there are about 2 in the uk

Lack of participation down to many reasons; PlayStations, money and football ..... all leading to the inevitable epidemic of obesity. Anyone seen WALL:E?

August 7, 2013 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJerome Edwards

I think someone in the room said to attract and keep good talents is to incentivised them. Perhaps the acceptance this is not helping.

August 7, 2013 at 8:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterAi-Lin 'Missing-in- Action' Kee

It's near impossible to make it as an elite distance runner in Britain. Standards have moved on hugely internationally since Steve Jones' day and there are now literally 1000s of top class Africans training flat out full time to compete with.

British runners need to be training full time to have any chance at all and there's not really any support.

Look at Chris Thompson, European track silver medalist not long ago, highly ranked internationally but gets dropped from UKA funding and not picked for the World Champs despite meeting the IAAF standard, and having a much higher world ranking than many of the athletes picked for other events.

Triathlon definitely looks like a much better choice (until the Kenyans get bikes!).

August 7, 2013 at 10:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterEd Donovan