THE head of elite performance who steered Britain's athletes to their best Olympic performance since 1980, hitting the targets set by UK Sport, may quit his £250,000-a-year job.

His counterpart at swimming, which under-performed and now faces government funding cuts, recently signed a new four-year contract.

Charles Van Commenee, the Dutchman who has restored British athletics pride, confirmed yesterday that he is off to consider his future, "lying on my back, probably somewhere in the Caribbean, with a cigar."

UK Sport asked for five to eight medals, one of them gold. Van Commenee made a rod for his own back, saying he would double the four won in Beijing. Six medals, despite four of them being gold, does not cut it for him. Yet he was relaxed and smiling when addressing the media. "It's not about me," he said. "It's about what's good for the [UK Athletics] programme.

"As a sport, we are back on the map. Not only because of performances but also because we present ourselves in a more professional manner."

The contrast with Michael Scott, swimming's performance director, could not have been greater. He visibly trembled, notes shaking in his hands as he faced media, announcing a sweeping review. His sport's target was between five and seven medals. They won just one silver and a bronze. Only one British record was broken, and though 23 finalists was more than four years ago, only three out of 44 athletes returned the best performances of their lives.

It may not be mere coincidence that van Commenee is a martinet in the mould of Bill Sweetenham, the Australian coach who turned GB swim fortunes around. But Sweetenham quit "for personal reasons" in 2007. During his six-year tenure, Britain won more world medals than in all previous championships back to 1973. A year after he left, Rebecca Addlington's golden double headed a six-medal haul. That momentum is now almost dead in the water.

This is in stark contrast to athletics, whose funding was cut after they failed to measure up in Beijing. Four golds, a silver, and a bronze in London is the best haul since Moscow (4, 2, 4) but these Games and Los Angeles (3, 7, 6) four years later, were boycotted. The last time Britain won more athletics gold was 104 years ago – in London.

Performance director Scott signed a new contract in March, British Swimming confirmed yesterday. Now he is to lead a review of the 2012 performances. Funding for the four years to Rio de Janeiro will be announced in December.

Scott said the team had achieved its best results at world, Commonwealth, and European level coming in. "But in London we failed to continue this trend, and we need to fully understand why." The review "will be done quickly but thoroughly" by the end of October.

Glasgow's Michael Jamieson, who won silver in the 200m breaststroke, was the only swimmer to set a British record. He did so three times. The only others with lifetime bests were Andy Willis in the same event, and Livingston's Craig Benson, in the 100m breast.

Swimming received a total of £25.1m to 2012, but look set to lose out when the UK Sport board deliberates in December.

The 79-strong athletics squad put 19 people in finals (a poorer percentage than swimming). There were 11 lifetime bests, seven season's bests, two UK records and an under-20 record.

Chief executive Nils de Vos and chairman Ed Warner advised Van Commenee to delay a decision. "Yeah, they want me to stay," he said. "It's quite an honour, actually."

Have athletes also asked him to remain? "Er, no," he laughed. "That should tell you something!

"It's a weird situation, I don't make the target, and people ask me to stay. It's strange. The other element is the accountability factor. When a target is not hit, it should have consequences. It's a pillar of our policy. That's what I implement to athletes and coaches every day. It's that's what drives people to do better.

"It is about doing things better tomorrow in comparison to today. You can only encourage and help people to get better when there is accountability. That's why we have targets – why every athlete has targets.

"The world would be a better place if everybody had targets, with sanctions, I think."