altSEPTEMBER 1 - UK ATHLETICS today announced that Dave Collins (pictured) had been sacked as the performance director after they failed to meet their medal target at the Beijing Olympics, as predicted on insidethegames yesterday.


The 54-year-old former Royal Marine is set to be replaced by Dutchman Charles van Commenee, the ex-coach of Olympic medal winning heptathletes Denise Lewis and Kelly Sotherton.


Niel de Vos, the chief executive of UK Athletics, confirmed that Collins' contract that is due to expire in March would not be renewed and that he would be leaving with immediate effect.


He said: I would like to place on record my thanks to Dave for his contribution to the sport over the last four years.


"He has led a radical overhaul of our performance systems which will provide solid foundations on which we can now build to ensure athletics fully meets the challenges of 2012 and beyond.


“Our planning for this next Olympic cycle got underway several months ago and this decision and any subsequent appointment is the culmination of this detailed process.


"It certainly is not a negative reflection on what has gone before, on the contrary there is no doubt we have made progress since 2004.


"However we now need to take the next step on the performance ladder and give ourselves and British athletes the very best chance of success at a home Games in 2012.


Ed Warner, the chairman of UK Athletics, said: “Dave will leave a valuable and lasting legacy to elite athletics in the UK having created a new professional culture based around High Performance Centres.


"I and the UKA Board would like to take this opportunity to thank Dave and wish him well for the future.”


Since taking over in March 2005 from Max Jones, who retired after the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Collins has insisted that he should be judged on the performance of the team in Beijing.


But four medals, one gold, two silver and a bronze, represented poor reward for £26.5 million worth of National Lottery funding, especially when other sports like cycling, rowing and sailing were finishing top of their respective medals tables in Beijing.


Crucially, it also fell short of the target of five set by Government agency UK Sport, who distribute National Lottery funding.


Collins had wanted to be given the opportunity to lead the sport through to London 2012 but that will now go instead to van Commenee, currently employed as the performance director of the Dutch Olympic Committee, who de Vos identified several months ago as the man to take the sport forward.


The 50-year-old had been the favourite to take over from Jones four years ago when he was employed by UK Athletics as its director for multi-events but grew frustrated at the length of time the interview process was taking and withdrew.


Van Commenee will be a popular choice with many athletes although he will not shy away from making difficult and painful decisions.


His appointment will not be officially announced until later this month following the end of the Paralympic Games in Beijing where van Commenee is the Chef de Mission of the Dutch team.


Collins has had the last six months of his contract paid up in full but it is unclear what the future holds for him.


He said: “I am proud of what has been achieved in such a short space of time, due to some effective and committed teamwork.


"We now have the majority of our athletes operating out of four High Performance Centres surrounded by high quality and dedicated support teams and this will enable the sport to move towards greater success in 2012.”