Olympic Legend Daley Thompson backs Team GB to handle pressure


Jane Cowmeadow

Olympic legend Daley Thompson is backing Great Britain for a record haul of medals at the London 2012 Games – but is warning against complacency.

The 53-year-old, who gold in the decathlon at the 1980 and 1984 Games, says a best-ever return of nine medals from the recent World Indoor Athletics championship shows the prospects are good, but says they must be put into perspective.

‘The only thing I’d say is: don’t get too carried away. Take it as a brilliant boost psychologically and physically but forget it happened and move on,’ said Thompson.

‘If you start thinking, “I’m doing really well”, you’ll lose momentum. Although you can’t win Olympic gold now, you can lose it.’

But Thompson believes Britain has found a generation of athletes who can handle expectations at major events.

Cuban-born Aldama won gold for Great Britain in Istanbul (Picture: AFP/Getty) He added: ‘In the past a regular feature of British teams at major championships has been that people who we thought would do really well have folded but there were no really bad performances [in Istanbul].

‘The guys seem to be coping well under pressure. We’re in a great place – and not just in athletics. We’ll have the best Olympics ever.’

For Thompson, the storm surrounding the ‘plastic Brits’ debate has been calmed, for now at least, by four newcomers – Tiffany Porter, Yamile Aldama, Shara Proctor and Shana Cox – winning medals for Team GB in Turkey.

‘They’re stepping up and that justifies them being in the team,’ explained Thompson. ‘They’re there because they can win medals and perform on the big stage but there is a difference between doing it at the world indoors and doing it in front of 80,000 at the Olympic Stadium.’

He is also sure the issue will fade, adding: ‘Tiffany is legally allowed to run for Britain and I didn’t hear a big hoo-ha when [South African-born England cricketer] Kevin Pietersen or some of the rugby boys came through.

‘Maybe it [athletes switching allegiances] should be looked into at some point but let’s get behind these athletes.’