Black stands by de­ci­sion to re­ject GB Doha in­vites

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Subject - Ben Bloom ATH­LET­ICS COR­RE­SPON­DENT in Doha Adamant: Neil Black said the ‘six or seven’ athletes were un­likely to win a medal

The head of Bri­tish Ath­let­ics has de­fended his de­ci­sion to ig­nore World Cham­pi­onships in­vi­ta­tions sent to Bri­tish athletes by telling them “it’s a per­for­mance sport” and he does not deem them ca­pa­ble of win­ning a medal in Doha or next year at the Olympics in Ja­pan.

Neil Black said “six or seven” Bri­tish athletes not ini­tially se­lected to be in the team had sub­se­quently been in­vited to com­pete by event or­gan­is­ers based on their po­si­tion in the world rank­ings.

How­ever, Bri­tish Ath­let­ics pol­icy states it will take only peo­ple it deems to be cur­rent or fu­ture global medal con­tenders and so the in­vi­ta­tions were turned down.

Jade Lally, for­mer Com­mon­wealth dis­cus bronze medal­list and sec­ond on the Bri­tish all-time list, re­vealed she had re­ceived an email from Black con­tain­ing the ex­pla­na­tion: “Al­though I fully ap­pre­ci­ate I do not have a crys­tal ball, the ‘what it takes to win’ sta­tis­ti­cal in­for­ma­tion sug­gests that at this stage it is very un­likely that you would medal in Doha or Tokyo.”

Lally said she would use the snub as “huge mo­ti­va­tion” to qual­ify for next year’s Olympics, as well as point­ing out she had given birth only nine weeks be­fore­hand and so could not throw any­way.

Bri­tish Ath­let­ics also turned down an invitation for 3,000 me­tres steeplecha­ser Phil Nor­man, who said: “I’ve proved I am wor­thy of the world stage, so to say I’m gut­ted is an un­der­state­ment.”

Speak­ing on the eve of the World Cham­pi­onships, Black de­fended his pol­icy. He said: “Noth­ing in the email sug­gested we were giv­ing up on any of the athletes. All of the emails went on to say, ‘But – pos­i­tive, pos­i­tive, pos­i­tive.’

“We have to stick to the pol­icy as it’s writ­ten. There are lots of op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple to gain ex­pe­ri­ence in that way – as a gen­er­al­i­sa­tion we use the Euro­pean events as de­vel­op­men­tal events. We’ve clearly stated the World Cham­pi­onships and Olympic Games are purely per­for­mance-re­lated events.”

Black also hinted that Laura Muir may be un­likely to claim the world 1500m title next week when she races for the first time since pick­ing up a calf in­jury in July.

Asked for an update on her fit­ness, he hes­i­tated be­fore say­ing: “Ev­ery­thing sug­gests that she’s in good shape, pro­gress­ing to­wards great shape.” When pushed on any as­pi­ra­tions of win­ning gold, he replied: “Laura is still go­ing to be com­pet­i­tive to win a medal.”

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