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We have to get real; Coe calls for caution on 2012 medal hopes.

LONDON 2012 organising committee chairman Lord Coe has urged people to be realistic about Great Britain's medal chances in track and field at the Olympic Games in three years' time because of the huge depth of competition in the sport.

Coe, who won Olympic gold in the 1500 metres in 1980 and 1984, saw plenty of reasons to be cheerful about the future of the sport in this country after witnessing a strong show at the World Youth Champi-onshipin Italy this month.

But he does not expect those athletes to have matured into contenders for medals at the 2012 Games and insists the current generation of medal hopefuls have a huge task.

"We recognise that we have come from further behind than we would choose to," said Coe.

"There was a period in the 1990s when we weren't doing enough for succession planning and we probably didn't have coaches of sufficient quality.

"I was very uplifted the other day, I went to the World Youth Championships in Bressanone and in the course of a couple of days alone I saw five youth world champions come through - a girl that won both the 100 and 200 (Jodie Williams) a heptathlete winner (Katarina Thompson) and we had a boy that won the triple jump (Ben Williams).

"The sport in younger age groups is in quite good shape. In fairness, they will probably be slightly undercooked by 2012.

"But the problem with track and field - and I would say this, wouldn't I? - is that we have to be real-istic. It is one of the toughest sports out there to get medals in, when we go to Berlin in a couple of weeks' time, there aren't 40 or 50 (national) federations there, there will be 220.

"There is not a nation on the planet that does not do track and field. While yes we can and we will do a darn sight better over the years to come, we should recognise getting a medal at a world championships or an Olympic Games in track and field is probably the toughest thing to do."

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Lord Sebastian Coe
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 27, 2009
Words:354
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