Why Laura Muir and Josh Kerr may be told to skip 2022 Commonwealth Games

Olympic medallists Laura Muir and Josh Kerr could be ordered to skip next summer’s Commonwealth Games as UK Athletics looks to protect its funding following a poor Tokyo 2020.

Laura Muir won a silver medal in Tokyo.

Three silvers and three bronzes left the track and field team with no golds for the first time since Atlanta in 1996, with the sport planning a review which could lead to an overhaul of its internal system.

But with UK Sport now under pressure to shift high levels of investment away from poor performers such as rowing towards those who did well in Japan including BMX and triathlon, athletics is under pressure for a quick rebound at next summer’s World and European Championships to safeguard its £22million backing to the 2024 Games in Paris.

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And with the two major events only five weeks apart – and Commonwealths jammed in the middle – Olympic head coach Christian Malcolm admits load management to avoid injuries to his leading lights could leave Scotland short of its big guns for Birmingham.

Josh Kerr also tasted success at the Olympics.

He said: “Definitely you have a conversation because we've got to be sensible. They are going to be some key events there. And the athletes we've had conversations with already are understanding that this is not possible for them to do all three in certain cases. So we will be helping to advise them to plan through that.”

It is understood that British Swimming will also hold similar talks over the Commonwealths with its Tokyo titans such as Duncan Scott as one of several sports facing a logjam in 2022 as a consequence of the schedules being re-written when the Olympics was postponed by 12 months.

In some cases in athletics, competing in more than one out of three will be impossible with marathon runner Callum Hawkins suggesting his pick will be between worlds and “unfinished business” with the Commonwealths. It is possible, Malcolm added, that younger athletes will be steered towards Birmingham to gain experience and established ones to go to July’s worlds in Oregon and then rest up for August’s Europeans in Berlin.

“For some events, we got to really identify what is going to be the priority for those athletes,” Malcolm said. “Maybe prioritising going to the Europeans will be better for them for the development for that next couple of years, going into the (2023) worlds and then going into an Olympic Games. For others where they're at, the World Championships might be a priority.

“And we’ve got Commonwealth Games in the middle, which is a home championships. But we've got to balance what their strengths and weaknesses are. And I think it's a real opportunity, when you have a Commonwealths and Europeans, to be able to bring some young talent through development, exposing them.”

Muir’s Olympic 1500m silver, Malcolm underlined, should be an inspiration to all those who missed out on a medal in Tokyo, including her training partner Jemma Reekie, with the 28-year-old Scot completing her regeneration from fading from contention on the last lap of her 1500m final at Rio 2016 to her brilliantly assertive run to second place in Tokyo.

“I admire any athlete that's gone to a major champs, has been poor, re-evaluated and gone again, and tried to really fix and improve their gaps in training or performance,” he said. “I think what Laura's done… her coach Andy Young, he's done a fantastic job with her and Jemma.

“The fact that Jemma just missed out on the medal was heart-breaking, if I'm honest. Because knowing the hard work that those girls have actually put in over the last couple of years, it has been immense. So we can take from those findings as well and just help support others.”

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