Model behaviour from GB athletes
BRITISH ATHLETES SHOW THEIR CLASS IN AND OUT OF COMPETITION AT EURO CHAMPS
NEIL BLACK believes the culture of the sport and the way British team members managed themselves at events such as the European Championships has been most
impressive in 2018, writes Jessica Whittington.
The GB team topped the medal table in Berlin, claiming seven gold, five silver and six bronze medals, but the British Athletics performance director has also been encouraged by athletes’ behaviour off the track.
“The thing that was really impressive about 2018 in terms of the overall performance were things about the culture of the sport,” says Black.
“The feedback that we got at the European Championships from the European Athletics staff managing the event was that we were the most professional national governing body, we gave them the least hassle, the way that we managed the personal coach support of the athletes and so on, again gave them the least hassle.
“We got commentary on a daily basis back in the dining hall from the staff who said ‘how do you do it with your athletes? They are all so polite – they say please, they say thank you, they take their dishes back and whatever it is’.
“Some people might think that’s irrelevant but for us that’s really important and reflects the understanding and the professionalism of the athletes as a whole.”
Black, who considers there to be a growing number of British athletes who are on the cusp of being major individual medal contenders, adds: “The culture within the sport is one of changing – not in a way that becomes less cut-throat or less determined or competitive – but actually understands that there is a way of presenting yourself and managing yourself that can be professional and courteous as well as really focused and determined. That for me is a really positive message.”
High performance: relay winners in Berlin