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Steve Backley in Athens 2004


27 October 2009

Article by Steve Backley as featured in Athletics Weekly

I was pleased and as quoted ‘honoured’ to be appointed Vice President of the UK Members Council earlier this week. The UKMC consists of representatives from across the sport with volunteer representatives for clubs, coaches, officials and road running seeing it as a genuine way to influence and guide governing body policy.

I’ve been fortunate to have had 20 years of experience at the top end of athletics. However I also came through our club system and have seen our sport from so many different angles – especially from what I refer to as the ‘shop window’ side.

I’m sure that my experience plus other factors mean I can serve the Members’ Council effectively in its vital role and I think I can bring to the role a number of useful tools.

For a start – I would like to think I am quite diplomatic and approachable for people – this is key in ensuring everyone feels they can provide feedback and that their voices can be listened to.

Also I am motivated by wanting to continue to be deeply involved with this fantastic sport. I’ve seen too many people with expertise leave the sport and go elsewhere to use their skills, I hope that I can put something back and stay closely involved with how athletics evolves over these next few years.

I also feel that I can use skills from my other interests to help me deliver. For example I have commercial background, experience in the performance sport arena, an understanding of communications and a genuine wish to use these proactively. It is also great that I can continue to play a part in the BBC’s delivery of athletics coverage, and I count myself lucky to have so many varied and interesting activities to pursue in life after competition.

Whilst it is early days in terms of my involvement with the UKMC, I think it is an excellent forum where the opinions of the sport can be put on the table and considered carefully. The UKMC is cutting edge and the place to be to help inform and influence decisions.

Athletics has had an interesting year and I was delighted with our performances in Berlin but I also know that Charles van Commenee and his team will not see this anything more than a promising first few months. 2012 creates an extra pressure to get it right, but I am delighted to be part of the structure at this time.

Following recent restructures within the sport I know how important it will be now for UKA to steady the ship going forward. There is little time now. Whilst it has been good to see how UKA and the Home Countries have been working together so well in recent times, on a performance note, next winter (2010-11) will be the penultimate winter for athletes prior to the Olympic and Paralympic summer so relationships, working practices and structures will need to be firmly established by then for our athletes to perform at the highest level in 2012. 

Being part of that effort, in my UKMC role is very exciting and I am in no doubt that this is the most important era of athletics the sport has ever seen. I look forward to seeing how I can play my part and serve this brilliant sport.