2nd February 2009

Official Line Column


02 February 2009

Article by Ed Warner as featured in Athletics Weekly

Having just got back home from a long riverbank training run in driving wind and rain for this May’s Belfast marathon, inside comforts have rarely seemed so appealing. The arrival of the indoors athletics season is as welcome as ever then. Steve Lewis’s pole vault PB has already whetted the appetite for the coming weeks, which begin in earnest with this Saturday’s Aviva International Match.

All of our analysis of what attracts spectator and TV viewer interest in athletics indicates that the public responds very positively to athletes competing in their national vests. The Aviva International may only be a one-off match, but the team structure to the afternoon at the Kelvin Hall in Glasgow provides an edge to the action that competitors and spectators alike feed off.

The year after an Olympics is often cited as a low point in the four year athletics cycle, with athletes throttling back to recharge their batteries. This is unlikely to be the case for Britain’s athletes with a new Head Coach to impress and the building interest in a home Olympic Games. Glasgow represents an important opportunity in a British vest for the Great Britain & NI team in the build-up, through the European Indoors in Turin, to the Worlds in Berlin in August.

If you’re at the Kelvin Hall, or watching on the BBC, you may notice a change in the image of UK Athletics. Trackside signage will carry our new UKA logo, unveiled this weekend for the first time. There will also be a new look to our website, and indeed a new web address www.uka.org.uk.

This redesign, and the shift in our public face from UK Athletics to UKA, has been wholly organised by our team in Solihull within our regular budgets. It’s not a radical change in our image, but we felt that it was important to refresh our appearance so as to move with the times. Whether you love it, hate it or are indifferent to it, the important thing is that you notice it. Of course, I hope you like it!

Finally, a word of thanks to Tanni Grey-Thompson, who last week unveiled the results of her review into anti-doping. Our Board has already accepted her 22 recommendations, some of which may prove contentious, but all of which are consistent with our desire to ensure that athletics in Britain is free of performance enhancing drugs.

Tanni’s work on her review has been intensive and thorough and I hope that all of our sport will see its benefits. I am grateful also to the 400 or so contributors to her review, including those whose advice ran contrary to her conclusions. The willingness of everyone who participated played a valuable part in the final outcome.