Symington handed key British Athletics role after netball gold
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