Birmingham Diary: Stuart Weir considers the host country's medal prospects

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The medal counts drive me nuts. Now, probably, that is because, coming from USA, we have pretty enormous medal counts. I have learnt to appreciate, from my dear friend Alfons Juck, the Czech Republic's amazing medal counts, when they get five or six. I also think GBR is doing well in that range. After having been to ten outdoor worlds, six indoor worlds, cover nine summer Olympics, I have learned to appreciate the success of each country, some who are proud to have their first finishers, and some who are looking at 30 plus medals.

Stuart Weir, our English friend who I thought was Scottish, wrote this piece on the eve of the World Indoors on the prospects of GBR. I think it is well done, honest and supportive.

In the end, we write what we know and feel and try to communicate that to your, our dear readers.

Flying across the pond right now, with a two hour delays, we should arrive in frigid Manchester around 10 am on March 1, and be in Birmingham around noon. Think a good thought for us.

Laur Muir .jpg

Can Laura Muir start the WIC 2018 out with a medal for GBR? photo by Getty Images for British Athletics

McColgan_Eilish-Pre17.jpgEilish McColgan, in 1500m and 3000m, watch out for her last 1000 meters, her kick could nab a bronze, photo by PhotoRun.net

Grabarz_Robbie-WorC17.jpgCan Robbie Graberz, in front of his people, grab a medal? We think so! photo by PhotoRun.net

The World Indoor Athletics Championships are about to start in Birmingham as is the speculation as to how many medals the host nation can expect to win. In the London 2017 outdoor World Championship we gained 6 medals. Disappointingly the Birmingham programme includes neither the 5000m nor the 10000m at which Mr Mo Farah won medals in London. Nor is there a 4 by 100 relay in which GB medalled twice in London 2017. Clear evidence of an IAAF plot to deprive the host nations of its deserved medals. So that just leaves us with the two 4 by 400 medals from London.

If we go back to the 2016 World Indoors in Portland we collected only three medals. Not much encouragement there then. To be fair, though, we did take a small team - no relay squads - with athletes preferring to prepare for the 2016 Olympics.

In the 2017 European Indoor Championships in Belgrade we were second in the medal table behind Poland with ten medals. That included gold medals for:

Richard Kilty 60m

Asha Philip 60m

Andrew Pozzi 60m hurdles

Laura Muir 1500m and 3000m

When Britain last hosted the World Indoors in 2003, in Birmingham again, we gained seven medals - 2 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze. Perhaps there is something in the Birmingham air. And, having arranged cold weather specially, we can expect to see many athletes from hot countries not wanting to risk the cold weather.

2018 is a complicated year for GB athletes. With a March Indoor Worlds, followed by an April Commonwealth Games in Australia and an August European Championships in Berlin, some athletes are opting out of the indoors to concentrate on peaking later in the season.

I am confident that Team GB will give a good account of itself but the margins between a fine performance ending in 4th or 5th and a medal can be incredibly small. Of course I care about medal targets but I will be equally impressed with PBs, solid performances, finals and the like.

The first evening sees Laura Muir and Eilish McColgan in the 3000m with Morgan Lake and Robbie Grabarz in the High Jump. If we can be in the medals on the first night that could be just the boost Team GB is after.

And, of course, there is the issue of home support. I heard so many athletes talk of how the crowd in London 2012 or London 2017 had given them a lift. We can expect the Birmingham cried to give our athletes the same encouragement. This could just be a special week for the host nation.

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