Van Commenee Leaving U.K. Athletics

Charles van Commenee led a successful UK Team at the recent Summer Olympics. Photo: Guardian

Under his leadership, the British team achieved six medals at the Olympics.

(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

U.K. Athletics head coach Charles Van Commenee will resign his post in December, federation officials disclosed today. The move had been expected, and the organization confirmed today that they are already working on a succession plan.

“Charles has done an excellent job preparing British Athletics for the 2012 Olympic Games,” said U.K Athletics CEO Niels de Vos in a statement circulated to the media. He continued: “He and I have always been aware of the possibility of him leaving and we are confident that our long term plan will enable us to continue building on the success we achieved in London. There is no doubt Charles has helped to transform our culture, and we can now look forward to further success under the leadership of a new team.”

Van Commenee, a Dutchman, was controversial and advocated a tough love policy which he asserted was the key to raising standards. Under his leadership, the British team achieved six medals (four gold) in the London Olympics, and athletics was the #3 sport amongst all Olympics disciplines in which British athletes earned medals, behind track cycling and rowing. Van Commenee had hoped for eight medals, and had famously said he would quit if that goal was not achieved on his watch.

“Niels and I have worked hard to implement accountability as it is vital to the culture of elite sport, and this has been absolutely central to what we have achieved here in a short space of time,” Van Commenee commented through a statement. “Whilst I am thankful for the kind comments and wishes I have received in recent weeks, I believe my decision has the interests of British athletics at it’s heart in sustaining this culture.”

British athletes took to Twitter this morning to thank Van Commenee for his service. “I wish Charles wasn’t leaving; he’s been a great head coach,” tweeted pole vaulter Holly Bleasdale.  “Has Charles VC really stepped down?” tweeted steeplechaser Eilish McColgan. “I really hope he hasn’t.  He’s done a fantastic job with UKA.”

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