By Duncan Mackay

Charles van_Commenee_at_London_2012_August_1_2012September 11 - Charles van Commenee is to step down as UK Athletics head coach after the team failed to meet his own medal target at London 2012, it has been announced.

The 54-year-old Dutchman, who had been in charge since 2009, will leave when his contract expires in December.

Van Commenee said he would quit as a "matter of creditability" unless the team hit a target of at least eight medals in athletics including a minimum of one gold.

Despite being widely praised, the team fell two short of that overall, though four of the six medals were gold thanks to Mo Farah winning the 5,000 and 10,000 metres, Greg Rutherford the long jump and Jessica Ennis the heptathlon.

Three of the gold medals - Farah's 10,000m, Rutherford and Ennis - came within an hour on what was dubbed "Super Saturday".

But some leading medal hopes failed to deliver - notably triple jumper Phillips Idowu who flopped terribly, failing to even reach the final of his event after a long-running feud with van Commenee.

Van Commenee's contract expires in December and UK Athletics' chief Niels de Vos and chairman Ed Warner wanted to offer him a new five-year one that would have taken him beyond the 2017 World Championships, which are due to be held in the Olympic Stadium in London.

Mo Farah_and_Greg_Rutherford_celebrate_Super_Saturday_August_4_2012Charles van Commenee decided to quit as head coach of UK Athletics despite "Super Saturday", when Mo Farah (left) won the 10,000 metres and Greg Rutherford the long jump as Team GB won three gold medals in the space of an hour

De Vos and Warner had hoped that van Commenee would change his mind about quitting after a holiday but they failed to persuade him to change his mind.

A new coaching structure is expected to be announced next week.

Van Commenee had taken over the job after Dave Collins had been fired following the British team's failure to reach its target of five medals in Beijing four years ago.

He had previously worked for UK Athletics when he was the personal coach of Denise Lewis, who had guided to an Olympic gold medal in the heptathlon at Sydney in 2000.

"Charles has done an excellent job preparing British Athletics for the 2012 Olympic Games," said De Vos. 

"There is no doubt Charles has helped to transform our culture and we can now look forward to further success under the leadership of a new team."

Van Commenee claimed that his job needed a "new energy and approach" in the build-up to the 2017 World Championships.

"Niels and I have worked hard to implement accountability as it is vital to the culture of elite sport," he said.

"My decision has the interests of British athletics at it's heart in sustaining this culture.

"I am happy the future is looking promising with the talent that is about to break through now.

"But now it needs the new energy and approach by the new leadership team through to 2017.

"As CEO Niels has always had an eye on the eventuality of my leaving – indeed he and I have worked together to put in place an excellent succession plan for the sport.

"I look forward to seeing the future successes for the GB and Northern Ireland team through to Rio and the World Championships in London."

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