Gardener: Malcolm remains key

Jason Gardener has backed Christian Malcolm to bounce back from relay disaster at the European Championships and says his experience will be vital for the British quartet at this summer’s Olympics


Double Olympian Malcolm and fellow veteran Dwain Chambers made a hash of the handover in Helsinki, with the Welshman failing to get the baton into Chambers’ hand at the first exchange.

Since Team GB struck gold in the 2004 Athens Games, the British men have only managed to get the baton round twice at major championships, with mishaps continuing to strike the team.

Despite the issues, Malcolm retains his reputation as one of the best bend runners around, particularly with Marlon Devonish missing out on selection.

And Gardener, a member of the Olympic-winning sprint relay team of eight years ago, said the 33-year-old Welshman has the nous to play an important role in the squad

“He’s part of the old guard, but you need that experience in there, running good times. He’d definitely be my third leg of the relay team but he can also do a job as the lead off runner,” he said.

“Christian will be the bend runner, I wouldn’t put him anywhere else given his 200m ability. If you’re picking someone on experience then it’s a no-brainer, Christian would be in there.

“It’s unfortunate what happened in Helsinki but mishaps can and do occur – you’re working to such small margins.

“The team was a little different at the European Championships but there’s still time for the British team to get their act together and to challenge for medals.”

Malcolm is one of two runners selected for the individual 200m alongside James Ellington and will be hoping to replicate the form that saw him finish fifth in two Olympic finals, in 2000 and 2008.

And Gardener also believes Ellington will make one of the legs of the relay squad his own.

“He would be in my relay team after winning the 200m and he had a beautiful start to the race,” added Gardener.

“It’s hard to put new faces in straight away and expect success, it might take time for him to gel. But he’d be my first leg of the relay team.

“It all depends on the integration of the team, but James has had the speed to maybe warrant a place.

“It’s all about mixing and matching the experience of the likes of Christian with the new breed like James.

“We have a strong squad, there aren’t many nations who can better our relay quartet but now it’s about putting it all together and producing on the day when it matters most.”

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