sport

Grabarz defends UKA decision

Robbie Grabarz has backed UK Athletics' decision to base elite athletes at a single High Performance Institute at Loughborough.

Grabarz believes the proposal has been made for the good of the sport despite high-profile casualties like Jessica Ennis' coach Toni Minichiello, who has lost job due to Ennis' decision to stay in Sheffield.

Grabarz, who is building up to the UK Championships in Sheffield this weekend, said: "I think it is going to be a good thing. There is always going to be someone kicking off about it, but it has to be of benefit.

"It focuses the sport, it makes communication easier between coaches and it helps with both the medical and organisational side. It has to be good otherwise UK Athletics wouldn't have done it."

Grabarz's coach Fayyaz Ahmed, whose training programme was previously part-based at Loughborough, said the change was imperative if Great Britain is to keep pace on the world stage.

But while he did not wish to comment on individual cases, he acknowledged the dilemma facing the likes of Minichiello and Ennis, who have established a clearly winning formula elsewhere.

Ahmed said: "Obviously if an athlete has a winning formula somewhere else, you stick to that winning formula - it just so happens that we have a winning formula that involves Loughborough.

"But fundamentally all I care about is my sport, and developing my athletes. Where ever my job takes me, so be it. Lots of people travel the world for their job and that's the way it is.

"Centralising may make things difficult in terms of growing pains but that's life. It makes access and communication quicker, and the bottom line is we have to raise standards so it's no bad thing.

"If we stand still we are not evolving, and we have to evolve in our sport. I'm looking forward to helping make the Institute the best in the world. I want the world to be envious of us. It may take us some time, but we'll get there."