Stuart Weir did this piece with Christian Malcom on his views about the success of the British team in Torun.
Christian Malcolm on Torun 2021
Olympic head coach, Christian Malcolm declared himself well pleased with the team’s performance and 12 medals at the recent European Indoor Championships. He said:
“A lot of athletes here who made finals, some had PRs and more importantly proved to themselves that they can compete at international level. Obviously, the Olympics are a big step up but this has given those athletes a taste of international competition. Of course, times are different because of COVID but we’ve seen a number of our athletes taking their opportunity. Everyone knows it’s been a difficult year and athletes have shown character and shown that they put in the work and come out and perform really well.
“As I said beforehand, I set no medal target or specific expectation but 12 medals were good but what was more important for me was to see athletes step up and put themselves in the competition and being fearless – not scared because they were lower on the rankings but believing they could get a PR or on the podium. That is genuinely what I’m most pleased about”.
Speaking in the week of International Women’s Day, he drew attention to the significant female presence in British athletics: “It makes you proud and also the way they support each other and encourage each other, helping each other to perform well. It makes you proud to see them stand up and inspire so many other women. We’ve always had a great tradition of women athletes in Britain from Jean Pickering, Mary Peters, Tessa Sanderson, Fatima Whitbread, and more recently Denise Lewis and Jess Ennis.
He was asked to comment on two specific performances, Keely Hodgkinson, at 19 the winner of the 800m: “I think she’s an outstanding talent”, Christian said. “What is more impressive is her tactical nous and racing skills. For such a young athlete to have such a racing brain as well as talent, I think is brilliant. We need to remember that she’s very young and still has a lot of development to do. But I think she has all the tools to become world-class. That performance shows that she’s one of our best 800m runners at the moment”.
He would not be drawn as to whether she could put the university on hold to develop her career or if she should prioritize the Olympics over the World Juniors this summer. “I think that’s a decision for her, family, and her coach of the moment she seems to do a good job juggling [training and studies]…Sometimes you got to be cautious with the athlete’s development and not push them too early. I wouldn’t put any pressure on her to try for the Olympics because it’s more about her development at this stage. I want her to have a long and fruitful career and sometimes pushing an athlete into major games is of benefit but sometimes it’s better to take a step back. And don’t forget there are three big championships in 2022 to choose from. So if she decides not to seek selection for the Olympics, she won’t get any pressure from me. It’s about where she is in her life, the decision she makes, and what she feels comfortable with. Either way could be the right decision for her”.
On team captain, Jodie Williams, he said: “She’s been an inspiration to the team from day one. Her team speech was fantastic and very honest. I think a lot of athletes resonated with it. I think too that her whole attitude during these days has been brilliant. That she had lane one in the final and stuck to her game plan and still got on the podium, running an indoor PR, speaks volumes. And she was able to run four 400s in three days and top it off with a relay medal. She was an absolute inspiration and I know that a lot of the team valued her. She led by example in the team and on the track. For someone who’s really a sprinter to step up to 400 and run four races to get a medal is very tough – and that was a massive inspiration”.