Michael Johnson claimed ‘Britain rewards mediocrity’ after Team GB disappointment

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Today, star British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith pulled out of the 200m due to a hamstring injury after failing to qualify for the 100m final. Just days before her crushing defeat in the 100m semi-finals, four-time Olympic gold-medalist Johnson said he thought the 25-year-old was “ready to take up the baton of inspiration”. Johnson, one of the key BBC pundits for the athletics in Tokyo 2020, wrote in an article for The Times saying he hoped Asher-Smith would take the pressure “in her stride”.

However, the American has previously been outspoken about the alleged flaws in the British system through which British athletes rise up.

He claimed that the culture “rewards Britain’s best, not the world’s best”.

He told the BBC he thought the whole thing should be dismantled and rebuilt from the ground up.

His comments came in 2006 after a series of blunders from sprinters in the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

READ MORE: Michael Johnson criticised Team GB athletics: ‘Concerned’

Mark Lewis-Francis was disqualified in the 100m for false-starting, and later failed to take the baton from Marlon Devonish in the 4x100m relay.

Three of the four runners in the relay were previous gold-medal winners in the 2004 Athens Olympics, including Lewis-Francis and Devonish.

Johnson told the BBC: “[British sprinters] have lost their hunger and it is the system which causes them to lose the hunger.

“The system rewards mediocrity. It rewards Great Britain’s best, not the world’s best.

Team GB is currently 6th on the medal rankings in the Tokyo Olympics, with eight gold medals, nine silver medals and 11 bronze medals.

While none of the gold medals are in athletics, Alex Yee and Georgia Taylor-Brown have both won silver medals in the triathlon.

Johnson, who has been part of the BBC’s presenting team for the Olympics since Beijing 2008, has been critical of Team GB more recently too.

After the 2017 World Championships in the Olympic Stadium in London, in which Team GB won six medals, placing them in sixth place overall, he warned that this was not indicative of success in the future.

He said he would be “concerned” if he was British, despite athletes winning an amazing four relay medals.

Johnson warned that long-distance legend Mo Farah retiring would bring down the country’s statistics in athletics.

He said: “Four thrilling relay medals. Only one individual, Mo Farah. He’s retiring. £27million investment. I’d be concerned.”

He added: “I’m not comparing GB to the US, but to countries like South Africa, Poland and France who don’t have nearly the resources of GB.

Olympic-gold-winning decathlete Daley Thomas appeared to agree with Jonson’s analysis, saying: “I hope we don’t allow the magnificent relays result to paper over the cracks.”



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