UK Athletics has defended its decision effectively to remove the Olympic head coach, Christian Malcolm, despite a summer of success with Britain winning seven world championship medals and 20 at the European championships.
Malcolm, who will leave UKA after his role was scrapped this year, was praised by Dina Asher-Smith for creating a team spirit that allowed Britain to thrive during his two years in charge.
“We’ve been so happy,” said Asher-Smith after Britain’s joint second-best medal tally at the European championships. “I was saying this to his face straight after I finished my 200m. Him being a former athlete and then coming into that leadership role, we’re a happy team and that’s reflected in performances.
“The medal haul in Munich has been fantastic. And at the world champs we almost equalled our record, too. We are a happy squad, we are a happy team and I hope that you got that vibe as well from us being on track. I definitely know that to run fast, you’ve got to be happy.”
Britain won six gold medals in Munich, while Keely Hodgkinson, Laura Muir, Matt Hudson-Smith and Jake Wightman won medals at each of the big three events: the world championships, the Commonwealth Games and the European championships. But it has also been noticeable how good the mood has been behind the scenes, which many have attributed to Malcolm and the team manager, Paula Dunn.
However, the chair of UKA, Ian Beattie, said it was right to scrap Malcolm’s role as part of an internal restructuring and replace it with a technical director who will be responsible for Olympic and Paralympic performance. The new position will be taken up by the highly regarded Stephen Maguire next month.
“With Christian we knew a few months ago that it was a restructuring,” Beattie said. “We always had confidence in Christian and his professionalism. We were happy to have him here with the team.
“I’d like to pay credit to Christian, Paula, the team management and the rest of the team because they’ve done a fantastic job. He leaves with our best wishes.
“Stephen will be starting at the beginning of September and will look at his requirements and structure with the performance team as he sees it.”
Asked about the difference in the two roles, Beattie said: “Stephen’s role is wider in terms of the whole technical performance side. Christian had a specific remit and that didn’t cover the para side. Stephen will look after the whole performance area.”
Beattie sidestepped whether it was odd to get rid of Malcolm after a successful summer. “I would rather that we’re in this position having had a really successful summer than I would that we hadn’t,” he said. “It’s credit to Christian and the rest of the team.”
Malcolm was not made available by UKA. In a statement he said: “All I wanted to do as head coach was leave the sport in a strong position and lay the foundations for those who follow me. I wish everyone all the best over the next few years.”