EUROPEAN ATHLETICS: Disqualification means they'll be no British women's sprint relay team at Olympics
THERE will be no British women's sprint relay team at the London 2012 Olympics after they were disqualified from their heat at the European Championship.
HONEST: Charles van Commenee blames more than a decade of underachievement for Great Britain's failure to qualify a 4x100m women's relay team to the London 2012 Olympics (Getty Images)
Great Britain’s women failed to make the final at last year's World Championships and their quartet was left in tears after they were disqualified from their heat at Helsinki's Olympic Stadium.
Anyika Onuora, Montell Douglas, Hayley Jones and Ashlee Nelson had initially qualified comfortably in second but replays later showed that Jones had stepped out of her lane.
Team officials appealed but the video evidence was clear, the result being Great Britain drops outside the world's top 16 and won't now be involved at their home Games.
"This was an accident waiting to happen, we have been under performing in this area for probably ten years,” said UKA head coach van Commenee.
"I'm not really surprised, it's the reason why I stopped funding the programme two years ago because I didn't think they could be dangerous in London.
"We are not finalists, we are ranked somewhere between 15th and 20th in the world and unfortunately we're 17th.
"I don't want to play down the fact it's a home Games and you obviously want a team there, it's not good at all.
"I am fully aware that not going to the Games was not a result of failing here, it is a result of ten or 20 years of not producing.
"They were emotional, all four. I must say that not only these four, every athlete here who has a last hope to get the Olympic qualifier in and fails to do so is very depressed."
Van Commenee though makes no excuses for taking such a firm stance on team funding, especially after Team GB did make the final at the Beijing Olympics - although they were subsequently disqualified.
"I can spend the pound only once, so I have to make choices. The program is always focussed on medallists first, then finalists, then who could be a finalist, and the rest are not looked after, basically," he added.
Meanwhile, Mark Lewis-Francis helped Great Britain's men's sprint quartet into today's final - and revealed he has not given up on his Olympic dream yet.
Lewis-Francis, a sprint relay Olympic champion in 2004, ran poorly in the individual event and was drafted into the relay after an unknown injury to Harry Aikines Aryeetey.
"My goal here was to secure a spot in the relay, Harry got injured and I really do feel for him but it gave me an opportunity try and prove myself in the 4x100m,” he said, after joining forces with Christian Malcolm, Dwain Chambers and James Ellington to progress to the final in quickest time.
"I feel blessed in a way because I was really low after the individual 100m. It’s been a terrible year but these guys have lifted my spirit and given me some hope that I may still get into the Olympic Stadium.”
© Sportsbeat 2012