British Athletics to send first official teams to Penn Relays

Wednesday, 13 March 2013
By Mike Rowbottom

neilblackMarch 13 - British Athletics will, for the first time, send an official team to next month's Penn Relays in Philadelphia as part of its build-up for this summer's International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Moscow.

Neil Black, British Athletics performance director, said today it would be "quite likely" that several of the victorious men's and women's 400 metres relay teams at this month's European Athletics Indoor Championships in Gothenburg would take part.

"We will be sending a training group to Florida next month, and this year is the first year that we will attend the Penn Relays as a GB team," Black said.

"We will be sending men's and women's teams for the 4x100m, 4x400m and medley relays, and the athletes will be a mixture of young, developing athletes and more experienced performers.

"It's quite likely that some of our Gothenburg gold medallists will be involved."

British competitors have appeared at the Penn Relays - hosted annually since 1895 by the University of Pennsylvania at Franklin, Field in Philadelphia - for generations, but have always appeared independently or as part of unofficial teams.

pennrelayAction from the 2010 Penn Relays, which have been run annually in Philadelphia since 1895

Black, who has now completed six months in his new position, added that three of Britain's 4x100m gold medallists from the Athens 2004 Olympics - Darren Campbell, Marlon Devonish and Jason Gardener - will now be helping out with the British relay programme.

Britain hit its target of eight medals at the European Indoor Championships, but the selection policy, which meant that there were no competitors in events such as the men's 1,500m, received criticism from within the sport for being too stringent.

gothenbritsMembers of Britain's victorious 4x400m relay team at this month's European Athletics Indoor Championships are expected to run in the Penn Relays next month

Black conceded that such selection criteria were a matter of fine judgment.

"We are inclusive and consultative with plans and philosophies moving forward, but there is always a danger that in striving for higher performance and excellence you might make it so difficult sometimes that it is inhibiting for people," he said.

"We are open-minded about it.

"But we feel really strongly that it is all about higher performances and medals."

Contact the writer of this story at mike.rowbottom@insidethegames.biz
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