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uk athletics statement 

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16 January 2019


The board of UK Athletics has confirmed today that Richard Bowker CBE has decided to step down as Chairman and will leave the organisation on 31 January 2019.

Sarah Rowell, a current member of the Board, and Olympian from the sport will assume the duties and responsibilities of the Chair of UKA on an interim basis until a new permanent Chair is recruited.

During his tenure as Chairman, Richard Bowker has led the development of new strategies for key areas including talent development, competition and coaching, that will help the sport maintain its position as one of the leading Olympic and Paralympic sports in the UK over the Tokyo and Paris cycles. It was also during his tenure that the innovative Athletics World Cup launched - an event that is expected to build on its successful first edition and become a fixture in the IAAF calendar in the years ahead.

The Board wishes to express its gratitude for Richard’s hard work, dedication and leadership over this period. Further announcements outlining the process for appointing a new Chair will be made in due course.

Sarah Rowell, Interim Chair of UK Athletics said:

“UK Athletics has made significant strides under Richard’s leadership. The Board is very sorry to see him leave at this time, but based on the recent decisions while he was Chair, the progress that will now be made in the areas of talent, competition and coaching in the coming years will be the real legacy of his tenure.

“I am honoured to take this role and alongside the board am committed to ensuring the sport comes together to work to ensure that it is in great shape for the World Championships in Doha and Dubai later this year and the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020, while laying the foundations for the Paris cycle thereafter. This means ensuring that the core at the heart of the sport – the clubs, coaches and volunteers – are best placed to support current and future generations of athletes.”


Biography: Sarah Rowell 

Sarah Rowell is the former GB record holder for the women’s marathon set in London in 1985, the year after finishing 14th in the Olympic Marathon in LA. She represented GB & NI in athletics between 1983 and 1996 on the road, cross country and mountain running – where she was World Silver medallist in 1992.

A member of Pudsey & Bramley AC, her post-competitive career has seen her take on multiple leadership roles; she was a member of the European Athletics Mountain Running Commission and successfully led the bid to host the 2015 World Championships in Wales. She chaired the Mountain Running Advisory Group for seven years during which time she also acted as GBR team leader at World and European Championships.

Sarah was appointed a UK Athletics Non-Executive Director in April 2012 and later, Chair of the Performance Oversight Committee.

Elected as an IAAF Road Running Commission member in 2016, she also sits on the London Marathon board as a Non-Executive Director (a role she will take a sabbatical from during her time assuming UK Athletics Chair duties) and is a Council Member of the World Mountain Running Association.

More recently she has competed in longer distance trail and off road ultra races as well as having completed the ‘London Classics’ – an endurance challenge where individuals need to complete all three London Marathon, Swim Serpentine and Ride London events.

She is a partner at Wharton Consulting – a consultancy offering specialist services to the performance sports industry - and has also authored or co-authored three books on sport.