altSEPTEMBER 23 - DUTCHMAN Charles van Commenee (pictured) was today officially announced as the new head coach of UK Athletics, as predicted a month ago on insidethegames.


Van Commenee will replace Dave Collins, who has left after Britain failed to reach its UK Sport target of winning five medals at the Olympics in Beijing last month.


They won four, including one gold, which was considered a poor return for £26.5 million worth of National Lottery funding.


Van Commenee had been the favourite to replace Max Jones four years ago as the performance director, after he retired at the end of the Olympics in Athens, following his successful work as the technical director for jumps and multi-events.


But he grew tired of the length of time the interview process was taking and instead returned home to work as technical director for the Dutch Olympic Committee.


But the lure of trying to turn round Britain's fortunes in time for London 2012 has enticed him back to work in the new role as head coach after the performance director's job was scrapped with Collins' departure.


Van Commenee said: “I am hugely excited to be returning to British athletics and at such an important time for the sport as we begin the countdown to London 2012.


“The fact that I spent four years in Britain as a technical director means that I already know many of the athletes and coaches and the way in which our High Performance networks operate. 


"I have kept a close eye on British athletics since I left in 2004, and so can hit the ground running and ensure my influence is felt immediately. 


"There is genuine talent here in the UK, and my challenge is to ensure that potential translates to medal success”


Sebastian Coe, the chairman of London 2012 and a former double Olympic 1500 metres champion, was influential in persuading van Commenee to return to Britain.


He said: “This is an excellent appointment and I congratulate UK Athletics on securing his services.


"Charles understands coaching and how to get the best out of athletes. 


"He has a fine technical knowledge of all aspects of athletics and can make a big difference to our 2012 prospects.”


UK Athletics chief executive Niels de Vos said: “I am delighted we have been able to persuade Charles to join us. 


"It is clear that our sport needs a genuinely world class coach to lead us into London 2012. 


"Charles has 27 years of coaching experience, has proved his abilities working with British Olympians such as Denise Lewis and Kelly Sotherton, and his recent role in his native Netherlands has exposed him to elite performance management across every Olympic Sport. 


"He is therefore not only a world class athletics coach but also a proven leader of Olympic teams, and I am confident this will be a winning combination for athletics in 2012”.


Ed Warner, the chairman of UK Athletics, said: “The key to Olympic and Paralympic success lies in coaching, and that is where we must focus our resources - not just at the elite level where we will back up our recruitment of Charles with other coaching investments, but right down-through our sport where coach education and development has been under invested for too long.”


Van Commenee will take up his post on a full time basis on January 1, 2009, but his input into the programme will begin immediately as he splits his time between UK Athletics and his outgoing role in Holland.


But his appointment has been already widely praised, including by UK Sport, who will be helping bankroll his six-figure annual salary through National Lottery funding.


John Steele, the chief executive of UK Sport, said “UK Sport welcomes the decision by UK Athletics to appoint Charles van Commenee as head coach, and commends the sport for wasting no time in focusing on the challenges ahead.


"It is fantastic that we are able to attract someone of Charles’ quality to work in the UK’s high performance system.


"We look forward to working with Charles and seeing our athletes and coaches benefiting from his experience.”