altSEPTEMBER 4 - ED WARNER (pictured), the chairman of UK Athletics, today said that the team's performance in the Olympics was not as bad as claimed but admitted there will be changes in how it prepares for London 2012.


Britain won only four medals in Beijing, its worst performance since National Lottery funding was introduced after the 1996 Games in Atlanta when the team did not win a gold medal, and on his return Dave Collins was sacked as the performance director.


Britain failed to reach the modest medal target of five set by National Lottery distributor UK Sport but  Warner said that the performance had to be seen in the context of how the rest of Europe did.


Writing in his regular column in Athletics Weekly published today, he said: "The British team's performance in China was broadly similar to that in Japan [at the World Championships in Osaka last year] - one fewer medal but four more top-eight finishes, equal eighth in the medal table versus 10th in Osaka, and sixth place in the placing table on both occasions.


"Neither a triumph nor a disaster, and better than many pessimestic pundits had forecast earlier in the year.


"That said, I came away from Beijing feeling that this was a 'nearly' or 'what if' Games for British athletics, a feeling made all the stronger by the excellent performances from Team GB in a number of other sports.


"Too many of our athletes will be disappointed that they did not put themselves into contention by reaching their final or, once there, failed to get into the mix for a medal.


"Home advantage may count for something in 2012, but it would be naive to think this alone will make the difference between an excellent Games for British athletics and merely a solid one.


"You can be sure that our review of our performance will lead to some key changes in our programme for the four-year cycle to London.


"Many people have pointed out the very poor showing of the other major European nations in China.


"Italy, Spain, Sweden, France and Germany won four medals between them, the same as Britain.


"This shed a more favourable light on our results."