Black stands by decision to reject GB Doha invites
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.”