Syming­ton handed key Bri­tish Ath­let­ics role af­ter net­ball gold

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Tom Mor­gan sports news correspond­ent

One of the ar­chi­tects of Eng­land Net­ball’s gold medal cam­paign at the 2018 Com­mon­wealth Games has been ap­pointed as Bri­tish Ath­let­ics’ per­for­mance direc­tor.

Sara Syming­ton, a for­mer po­lice of­fi­cer who com­peted for Great Bri­tain in cy­cling at the Syd­ney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympics, will play a key role ahead of the rearranged Tokyo Games next sum­mer.

The 50-year-old, who will have re­spon­si­bil­ity for de­liv­er­ing the Olympic and Par­a­lympic world­class pro­grammes, has pre­vi­ously held the same ti­tle with Eng­land Net­ball and Archery GB.

Syming­ton, who also com­peted in track and field at ju­nior lev­els, joins Bri­tish Ath­let­ics, also known as UK Ath­let­ics, af­ter a tu­mul­tuous year for the gov­ern­ing body, which was rocked by an in­de­pen­dent re­view find­ing that it needed to “trans­form the way it ap­proaches dif­fi­cult eth­i­cal de­ci­sions”.

A sep­a­rate re­view into safe­guard­ing at the or­gan­i­sa­tion found a “lack of pre­ci­sion” in the lines of re­spon­si­bil­ity, prompt­ing Joanna Coates, the UK Ath­let­ics chief ex­ec­u­tive, to say there was “a lot more work to be done”.

Bri­tish Ath­let­ics said she “brings with her an un­par­alto wealth of knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence across four sports as an Olympian, a pro­fes­sional ath­lete and a per­for­mance direc­tor”.

Dur­ing six years at Archery GB, Syming­ton also led the Olympic and Par­a­lympic world-class pro­grammes. In 2015, she took up the same po­si­tion at Eng­land Net­ball, where she re­built the per­for­mance path­way that led Eng­land to an his­toric first Com­mon­wealth Games gold medal on the Gold Coast in 2018.

She said she was “de­lighted to join Bri­tish Ath­let­ics at this junc­ture in its jour­ney”. She added: “I’m an ath­lete at heart who moved into lead­er­ship roles, but my over­rid­ing am­bi­tion has al­ways been about cre­at­ing an en­vi­ron­ment where our ath­letes and staff thrive.” Coates said her ap­point­ment “is a ma­jor step as we move into an in­cred­i­bly ex­cit­ing time for ath­let­ics and is a bril­liant op­por­tu­nity for her to make a dif­fer­ence both im­me­di­ately and in plan­ning the fu­ture”.

“Sara pos­sesses a vast wealth of knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence as both an ath­lete and a suc­cess­ful leader, which will prove vi­tal in our plan­ning to­wards Tokyo and al­low us to quickly re­view and eval­u­ate for the cy­cle to Paris.”

Chal­leng­ing times: Sara Syming­ton aims to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment in which ath­letes can thrive

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