Monday, 14 December 2009

Britain downgrades Commonwealth Games priority

Britain has effectively downgraded next year's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi to a development event after UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee explained that his main focus in 2010 will be on the European Championships in Barcelona, while Britain continues to prepare for 2012 London Olympics.

This may lead to other countries giving option to their atheletes to opt out of the Commonwealth Games.

The qualifying standards for European Championships, due to take place in the Montjuic Stadium, which hosted the 1992 Olympics, will be the same as those used for this year's World Championships in Berlin. British team won two gold medals, two silver and two bronze.

"We are looking for contenders, not pretenders."

The Dutchman claimed the Commonwealth Games, which takes take in New Delhi in October, would provide up-and-coming athletes with the chance to impress. He said: "This year's Commonwealth Games presents an opportunity to athletes just outside UKA's European Championships criteria which will ensure developing athletes are given high quality competition at an international level."

A number of Britain's top athletes, including world heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis, have already announced that they will not compete at the Commonwealth Games.

Like many other top competitors, she fears picking up a stomach bug and also believes that the scheduling of the event, which is not due to start until October 3 2010, will cost them valuable time in beginning preparations for the 2011 World Championships, which will be held in Daegu, South Korea, the following August.

Ennis was joined yesterday by Kelly Sotherton, who announced that she would not be defending the heptathlon title she won in Melbourne in 2006 and that she expected to be joined by Phillips Idowu, the world triple jump champion.

But Ennis, Idowu and Sotherton have all already said that the European Championships will be their main priorities in 2010 as they seek their first gold medals in the event.


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