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GB sprinting is in crisis

2 August 2006
bbc.co.uk

Former European 200m champion John Regis says British sprinting is in crisis ahead of next week's European Championships in Gothenburg.

Regis told BBC Sport: "Britain is a third-world country in track and field."

"Some of our guys party, they drink and they do stuff that will not help them perform. It is about time they showed their true worth."

"I think a lot of them are money-driven - they want first and try and perform later. We are getting further behind."

Regis, who won four medals at the 1990 European Championships, added: "I call them 'one-hour professionals', because they are only professional when they train."

"When they leave the track they go back to being a normal person. They need to train harder to start giving themselves every chance."

Britain's sprinters have been a huge disappointment since the men's relay team won 4x100m gold at the 2004 Olympics.

In the individual events in both Athens and at the Helsinki World Championships in 2005, Britain failed to get a single man into the 100m and 200m finals.

Regis also hit out at lottery funding and coaching standards.

"Lottery funding didn't mean a thing to me because I was hungry and wanted to win - and the same goes for Linford Christie, Sally Gunnell and Colin Jackson," said Regis.

"Now there are a lot of people who have no right being paid money for something they do very badly."

"Why should anyone get money if the best they can do is make the British team? That's easy."

"And at the same time, we don't have the coaches who can turn our athletes into world class."

"We have people who have knowledge but they don't know how to get the best out of our athletes."

Regis believes Dwain Chambers, who he used to manage, is Britain's best hope of winning a sprint medal at the European Championships.

Chambers won the 100m at the 2002 Championships, but was subsequently stripped of gold after admitting to using the steroid THG.

When he returned to competition at June's Gateshead Grand Prix, the Londoner swept aside British contenders Marlon Devonish, Mark Lewis-Francis and teenager Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, clocking a time of 10.07 seconds.

"Dwain is our main chance - and if that doesn't tell you we're in big trouble, I don't know what will," Regis said.

"In his first race back he walloped our best athletes, which says a lot."

"I am totally against doping, but Dwain has served his time, he knows he was wrong and we cannot penalise him."

"We must take our best team to the Europeans and Dwain is our best sprinter. He is a championship competitor and so stands a good chance."



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