September 13, 2012 / 11:12 AM / 5 years ago

Athletics-Black appointed British performance director

LONDON (Reuters) - Neil Black was appointed performance director of UK Athletics (UKA) on Thursday and among his first tasks will be finding a replacement for Charles van Commenee as Olympic head coach.

Dutchman Van Commenee said on Wednesday he would step down in December after failing to meet his target of eight track and field medals at the London Olympics, including one gold, even though the team bagged four golds and six medals overall.

Former physiotherapist Black, a pivotal figure in the success of British athletics for 20 years, will oversee the next Olympic cycle to the 2016 Games in Rio and the 2017 world championships in London.

“It is an honour to be given the chance to lead the Olympic and Paralympic Task Force and be asked to lead colleagues with whom I have worked hand in glove for the last four years,” Black told a news conference.

Black added that a number of strong candidates were being considered to replace Van Commenee, who said the former UK Athletics head of sports science and medicine was far and away the best man for the performance director’s job.

“I cannot think of any person within the top end of our sport who is more respected than Neil Black. You will be struggling to find any athlete who has anything negative to say about him,” he said alongside Black.

Van Commenee was proud of his work at the forefront of British sport despite not reaching his targets at the Olympics.

”The thing I‘m most proud of is the culture we’ve set together. It’s a high performance culture which enabled us to get rid of the cynicism and negativity around our sport.

“There’s more confidence and belief. These things are a condition for more development.”

UKA have not had a performance director since 2008 when Dave Collins left the post following the Beijing Olympics.

(This story is being refiled to make clear Black has not replaced Van Commenee)

Reporting by Tom Pilcher; Editing by John O'Brien

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