UK ATHLETICS’ new performance director Neil Black has warned Britain’s track and field stars that he will be even harder on them than controversial outgoing head coach Charles van Commenee.
Van Commenee lived up to his reputation as an uncompromising taskmaster by falling on his sword earlier this week, having failed to meet his own medal target at the London 2012 Olympics.
But former head of sports science Black, who will assume some of Van Commenee’s duties and appoint a successor to the Dutchman to work under him, insists those expecting an easier ride are in for a shock.
“I’m harder in the sense that I will push even further than he [Van Commenee] did,” Black said yesterday.
“I want change more quickly. I’m less tolerant but I feel less frustrated at going at a slower rate. The hardness just comes from confidence and clarity and being sure about what you need to do.”
Van Commenee, who had a high-profile and public disagreement with triple-jumper Phillips Idowu and will relinquish his role in December when his contract expires, said Black would be “my first recruit” in any job.
Black confirmed that Canadian Kevin Tyler, UK Athletics’ strategic head of coaching and development, was on his shortlist to be head coach but refused to place a timescale on the appointment.
Van Commenee, who resigned because Team GB managed just six medals, two short of his own target – albeit with two golds more than he had demanded – revealed he felt he had in fact been too soft.
“I think I compromised too much,” he said. “I am the soft factor here. I am the mellow one. I compromised too much and for that reason we could have done better.”