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Looking forward to partnership with McCain

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Daniel Awde
Awde - one of a number of youngsters to benefit from Beijing 2006 experience




28 July 2008



Article by Ed Warner as seen in Athletics Weekly magazine




One letter writer in last week’s Athletics Weekly accused me of “mealy-mouthed management speak” in questioning the validity of medal targets and celebrating the fickle hand of fate at Olympics. I’ve already written to him to thank him for the light-hearted moment his views afforded me during the shenanigans of the past couple of weeks. I stand by all I said in my last Official Line column, and hope that he (and the Plain English Society) forgive me my next sentence.


Congratulations to all the athletes chosen for Team GB last week, and very best of luck in Beijing!


Nearly all of the British athletics team going to the Olympics will be competing over the next couple of days in the Aviva London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace. As well as constituting a send-off event for the team, with opportunities to compete against many international rivals before they line up against then in China, this is also something of an experiment for both the IAAF and UKA.


This is the first time that a Grand Prix meeting has been held over two days. Clearly, the challenge posed by the IAAF when they sanctioned the event was to ensure high quality competition across the two days, and large crowds too. Looking at the meeting schedule I’m confident that the weekend will be a success on both counts. If it is, it will prove valuable input to all of us keen to appraise the structure of the elite athletics calendar.


The team chosen for Beijing includes a number of young athletes already tagged by the media as names to watch out for in 2012. A number, such as Alex Nelson and Daniel Awde, have clearly benefited from the experience of competing in Beijing at the 2006 World Juniors. The majority are training out of our HiPACs, providing vindication for a performance management strategy that has caused some controversy in recent years.


Although there remain a number of events in which Britain will be unrepresented in Beijing, I am pleased that nine of our possible twelve men’s jumping and vaulting berths are filled, and that three of the four women’s throws events will have British competitors. We must build on this representation in the coming years.


Earlier this week, I was delighted to attend the launch of a new five year sponsorship agreement between UKA and McCain which is intended to develop tomorrow’s champions by supporting grassroots athletics. Amongst a number of initiatives will be the McCain UK Challenge Series and the McCain Young Athletes League. Much needed financial and other support will flow into our sport’s competition structure in what I hope will be the start of a long and successful partnership with McCain.