Campbell: Don’t look for excuses

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Published: Wednesday 24th June 2015 by The News Editor

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Former sprinter Darren Campbell has warned young athletes not to look for “excuses” after five overseas-born athletes were cleared to represent Great Britain.

British Athletics announced on Tuesday that rising sprint star Zharnel Hughes – labelled by some as the new Usain Bolt – was one of five athletes cleared to compete for Team GB.

Clearance was also granted to 100 metres hurdler Cindy Ofili, high jumper Victoria Dronsfield, 400 metre hurdler Shante Little and 400 metre runner Montene Speight, reigniting the controversy over “plastic Brits”.

Hughes, who is from the Caribbean island of Anguilla, is free to compete for GB as the overseas territory is not recognised by the International Olympic Committee, while Dronsfield and Ofili – the sister of Tiffany Porter, whose switch of allegiance previously caused controversy – have British parents.

That did not impress outspoken s printer Richard Kilty, who sarcastically tweeted: “Good for fans to see home grown talent representing GB… oh wait…”

But former Olympic relay gold medallist Campbell told BBC Radio 5 Live: “To announce five just before the trials for the World Championships is a bit of a shock b ut they’ve still got to come and perform at our trials.

“It does mean the current British athletes have got to be ready to go. Competition is healthy.

“I can see it from the current athletes’ point of view but your mindset should be that you’ve got to beat everybody in the world.

“Sometimes the focus is so much on being the best in Britain that you lose sight of the real target – the real target’s trying to be the best in the world.”

Kilty also claimed “all sprinters I’ve spoken to in the team feel exactly the same”, before deleting both his tweets.

Campbell admitted Kilty’s view “probably is” representative of that of his team-mates, adding: “When you hear of a young sprinter, 19, who’s run a time of 20.15 (seconds for the 200 metres) and been labelled the next Usain Bolt, that is going to spread fear among the sprinters.

“If his potential is realised, he’s going to run crazy times like 19.6, 19.7. Straight away that is going to block paths for the other sprinters and their chances of representing Great Britain.

“But your mindset has to change. It’s too easy to use that as an excuse.”

Mark England, Team GB’s chef de mission for the current European Games in Azerbaijan, defended the selection criteria.

“We’ve got a very, very clear selection policy in the UK, it’s aligned to the International Olympic Committee,” he told 5 Live.

“If those athletes are eligible to compete for Great Britain – and there are some clear guidelines and stipulations around that – then we’ll be sitting down and looking to select those who have been nominated to us by the governing bodies.”

England also addressed the situation surrounding double Olympic champion Mo Farah, whose coach Alberto Salazar is at the centre of doping allegations which he has denied.

Farah has not been accused of any wrongdoing, and England said: “I think Mo’s handled himself exceptionally well and is going through the right process to get some clarification on what’s been happening back at his camp.

“We’re very confident that the right procedure’s being followed there.”

Published: Wednesday 24th June 2015 by The News Editor

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