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UK Athletics

One Year On

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6 May 2008



Article by Niels de Vos as seen in Athletics Weekly Magazine




When I was first asked by a colleague to write this weeks Official Line my first reaction was frustration that a year had already passed - a year in which much has been achieved but which so very much more still to be done.

My job as Chief Exec is to ensure that UK Athletics is delivering for its many stakeholders, which means listening to an extraordinarily wide variety of opinions and competing priorities. As Churchill famously described the USSR as a puzzle inside a riddle wrapped in an enigma, so athletics could be described as a passion inside confused structure, wrapped in multiple and vastly differing disciplines.

Here at Athletics House therefore, my priority in this first year has been to overhaul the structure and to create a lean, efficient and modern Governing Body, fit for purpose and delivering real benefit to the sport. I will continue to be frustrated by the pace of change due to the complex nature of our sport but will not shy away from taking tough decisions to ensure we maximise the opportunity afforded to us all by the 2012 spotlight whilst also planning long term for the post Olympic climate.

My model for what new UKA should look like, endorsed by the UK members council as well as the Board of UKA, is to minimize central management and intervention in order to free up resource for local investment behind a clear national strategy. This is precisely the shift that the sport has demanded of me, in order to rebuild confidence and capacity where it is needed most - out in the heartlands of the sport, informed by local knowledge. I am confident that this will lead to real improvements and a new energy in our sport, fuelled further by the Olympic effect as we near 2012.

In the end however, all my colleagues and I can do is seek to create the best possible climate for the sport to thrive. As with all governing bodies, we must recognise that the sport is ultimately dependent upon the armies of volunteer coaches, officials and club administrators across every county in the land. To the hundreds I have met and whose knowledge and passion I have used to inform my decisions, thank you. To the thousands more I have not met, I hope that UKA will prove itself a governing body to be proud of in the years ahead.