UKA chief realistic on medals
UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee is not expecting another record haul at this week's European Championships.
Two years ago in Barcelona the British team won a record 19 medals, including two golds for Mo Farah and victories for the likes of Jessica Ennis, Dai Greene and Andy Turner.
However, while Farah will defend his 5,000 metres title in Helsinki on Wednesday evening, the 82-strong squad will be focused more on their hopes of Olympic qualification than stepping on to the podium.
Track athletes who gained automatic Olympic places at the weekend's trials in Birmingham were de-selected from the initial 109-strong team, while those in a strong position to be handed a discretionary place - including controversial sprinter Dwain Chambers - accepted the option not to chase a qualifying time which would guarantee their berth ahead of Sunday's deadline.
"I always said this was to be seen in the light of preparation for the Games," Van Commenee said at the team's hotel on Tuesday. "It was never a purpose to select the best possible team to get a great number of medals.
"I am sure we will not get the same number as Barcelona because we did travel there with the best possible team. It's about preparing the team as well as possible for a home Games.
"Here we have a few final selections to deal with. There are some head-to-heads, some athletes need a good performance to be selectable. For some it's also a really good test to see if they can perform in a championship.
"We have some very good athletes like Robbie Grabarz (high jump) and Lawrence Okoye (discus) who are in the Olympics, but have never been at this sort of competition so that serves a purpose in that area.
"I have approached this championship very much from an individual interest per athlete. It's test yourself or select yourself."
Van Commenee would usually set a medal target for the championships - it is eight for the Olympics, with at least one gold - but the Dutchman will not do so in Helsinki.
There will also be no team captain or his usual motivational speech as only 30 per cent of the team are currently in Finland, with athletes free to arrive when necessary and return home after competing.
"It would not make any sense setting a target," Van Commenee added. "What is the purpose of a target? Usually there are consequences if you do not hit the target, someone is accountable. It's an incentive to learn and there is nothing to learn from this."
Helsinki marks the first time the European Championships have taken place in an Olympic year after organisers decided to switch from a four-year cycle to a biennial competition.
But asked if that had devalued the Europeans, Van Commenee added: "We can only draw the conclusion if it has been devalued after it has been done two or three times.
"It has a lot to do with the timing of our trials. Other countries have planned their trials on other days, we have little choice. It has to do with the BBC and contracts. This is a very hectic time. I was selecting with others until 1am on Sunday night.
"Other countries bring their whole squad because their national championships are not that big so they make this their trials. We will see after 2016, 2020 if this works."
Van Commenee spent almost two hours explaining what each athlete in Helsinki needs to do in terms of Olympic qualification, whether securing a place outright after finishing in the top two at the trials or doing enough to even be considered when the selection panel meets at Heathrow on Monday.
Perhaps the biggest headache will come in the women's 800m, where the only athletes who could have secured qualification at the trials - Marilyn Okoro and Emma Jackson - finished fifth and seventh respectively.
That leaves the door open for Lynsey Sharp and Jemma Simpson, first and second in Birmingham, to claim a place by running the 'A' standard of one minute 59.90 seconds here, while former World Championship bronze medallist Jenny Meadows needs to prove her fitness after not racing all year through injury.
And in the men's 400m hurdles, Nathan Woodward and Rhys Williams are effectively competing with each other for medals and the final discretionary Olympic place alongside world champion Dai Greene and trials runner-up Jack Green. Woodward is currently in pole position after Williams fell at the penultimate hurdle in the trials final.