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A work in progress

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Column by Dave Collins as featured in Athletics Weekly Magazine

 

20h August 2008

 

Whilst not wanting to disrespect other Olympic sports - for many people the most exciting part of the Games is upon us with ten days of athletics in prospect.

 

As you read this in Athletics Weekly on the eve of day one, I hope you are looking forward to the days ahead. Tomorrow kicks off with 18 different events, and it is a positive sign to note that Team GB athletes will be involved in two-thirds of these, with potential medallists on show from first thing in the morning.

 

Whilst the start of the athletics represents the curtain going up on the performance ahead, it also represents the final layers of an in-depth planning and logistical operation that started many years ago in order to ensure no stone was left unturned.

 

On the performance management side, the work done alongside our BOA colleagues in recent years to ensure our athletes preparations run as smoothly as possible in the final few weeks has certainly paid off.

 

Once again the excellent facilities at the holding camp in Macau have helped fine tune our athletes preparations as well as offer them the ability to focus on the job in hand with little or no distraction from the outside world. The familiarity with Macau - developed from use before the World Juniors in 2006, and Osaka and Taipei in 2007, has given our Olympic athletes - and will give our Paralympic athletes - the best possible preparation.

 

BOA recces to the competition facilities have enabled us to iron out those finer points that can make all the difference in performance terms. How far does an athlete have to walk before he/she can get through the mixed zone? Who will be the first team member to have contact with them post performance? How soon can the athlete access an ice bath once they've left the track or field?

 

All the above is an essential part of any major championship planning process, yet I'd be lying if I didn't say it took on additional significance with an event that comes round every 4 years. As we all know - funding and support for athletes across all sports will be determined by the events spanning 8 August - 17 September.

 

I have said since I was appointed Performance Director in 2005 that we would see signs of progress in athletics performance by Beijing. With the dedication of our athletes, coaches and performance staff we were able to put in strong performances across 2007, starting at the European Indoors right through to the World Championships in Osaka.

 

I'm confident that our athletes have prepared meticulously for the days ahead, and there will be those who will reap the rewards of their hard work and make the podium. Others may not hit the headlines, but their experience here in Beijing will put them in a strong position to make London 2012 their best Olympic and Paralympic opportunity.

 

Medals these next few weeks will be very welcome - but I'm keen that people see Beijing as a performance marker - a strong indication of where we are and what is still to come. Athletics is on a journey right now and in no way was Beijing meant to be our final destination. A lot of hard work has been done, and a lot of hard work still remains, but I'm sure that the results here will provide further evidence that we are on the right track.