The pile-up of championships in 2022 could rob the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham of some of its biggest stars and will make it impossible for Dina Asher-Smith to attempt a unique treble, Kelly Sotherton has warned.
Sotherton, three-times an Olympic medallist and the new track and field leader for Team England, is still hopeful she can persuade Asher-Smith to take part in Birmingham during a summer when the world championships, Commonwealth Games and European championships all take place during a five-week window between 15 July and 21 August.
But Sotherton admitted the prospects of Asher-Smith attempting the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay in Birmingham and Katarina Johnson-Thompson doing another heptathlon immediately after competing at the world championships in Oregon are slim because of fatigue.
“The fixture congestion is not ideal,” Sotherton said. “Hopefully, ideally, we would have loved to see Dina Asher-Smith come to Birmingham, do the treble again. That is not going to happen realistically. She is not going to go to the worlds then come to Birmingham and maybe even go to the Europeans in Munich. She will maybe be selective.
“My job is to speak to everybody and say: ‘OK, is the Commonwealth Games in your plans? If not, why isn’t it? It is a home Games. It should be a priority because your profile will be massive going into it, everyone will want to know who you are and you will gain new fans. Commercially it will be better for you.’ But I understand that financially for the better athletes the worlds will be where it is at because there is potential for more money.”
The former heptathlete added: “KJT is not coming to the Commonwealth Games to do a heptathlon but she might come and do a long jump or high jump. In the same way maybe Dina might come to Birmingham to do the relay. I would love all of the stars to be part of the Games so all the fans can see them. It is finding that balance.”
Sotherton is optimistic she can help England surpass the 29 athletics medals won when the Games were staged in Manchester in 2002. “I truly believe we can get that or can exceed that,” she said. “I believe we can be the most successful team at a home Games. From being a coach at age groups the last five years you can see a lot of talent coming through and that is really promising in the 18-20 bracket.”