28th April 2021

David Moorcroft: Why it’s more important than ever to have your say on future of athletics

Legend of British Athletics calls upon sport to engage with World Athletics Global Conversation:

The pandemic has transformed our lives. Whoever you are, whatever you do, for many the last year has been marred in loneliness, anxiety and tragedy. The fundamental sense of community and belonging that we rely on so heavily has been kept out of our reach for what seems like an eternity.

It’s perhaps not surprising then that there’s been such a focus on physical and mental wellbeing during lockdown, with individuals, businesses and governments all looking for ways to support people through such a challenging time.

Thankfully, in many countries, we’re finally seeing a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel. In the UK, lockdown restrictions are slowly being eased, allowing people to reconnect with loved ones and, in some situations, start participating in sport and organised physical activity again – the news the athletics community has been waiting for.
As a former Olympian, athletics and the international community that underpins it has always been a huge source of inspiration for me.

Aged only 11, I remember watching some of the great athletes performing at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo and thinking ‘wow, that’s exactly what I want to do’. I’m lucky enough to say that I went on to have a successful career in athletics and, given the global nature of the sport, I’m keen to emphasise the power of athletics in inspiring people of all backgrounds and levels.

One of the greatest features of our sport is its accessibility and far-reaching community. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, what kind of education you have, or how wealthy your background, there will always be a way for you to get involved. This openness is something I wholeheartedly support as the Chair of the parkrun UK board. parkrun organises free weekly community runs (not races!) around the world where everyone is welcome to walk, jog, run, volunteer or spectate. Participants may even find themselves running alongside elite athletes, but the focus of parkrun is on community, health and wellbeing.

While this freedom and sense of community has always been a part of athletics, it’s important that we continue to build on it, offering a voice to everyone involved, at any level. It’s important that we listen particularly to the younger generation, as they are likely to look at the world and the sport in a very different way to those before them and can help drive real change.

The pandemic has been tough for everyone, but athletics is in a unique position to reunite people from across the globe once ‘normal life’ resumes, while continuing to drive the important agenda for health and wellbeing. I hope that our lockdown experience will reignite passion in athletics and encourage more people to get involved in the sport.
I’ve always been proud to be part of athletics and have been lucky enough to be in a position to have a direct impact on the future of the sport during my time as Chief Executive of UK Athletics. But it’s the whole global athletics community that makes it so special. That’s why making sure we all have a voice is crucial and why the World Athletics Global Conversations survey is so important. It’s the first time ever that the entire global athletics community, including athletes, coaches, officials, fans and media, has been given an opportunity to have its say on the future of our wonderful sport in this way.

I would urge everyone to take a few minutes out of their day to take part in the hugely important World Athletics Global Conversation survey here. The future of athletics needs your voice.