Sara Symington: Former Olympic cyclist appointed British Athletics performance director

By Laura ScottBBC Sport
Sara Symington
As performance director at England Netball, Sara Symington put in place a full-time programme for the Roses and led them to Commonwealth Games gold in 2018

Former Olympic cyclist Sara Symington has been appointed as performance director of British Athletics.

Symington, who competed for Great Britain at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, has held similar roles with England Netball and Archery GB.

She will have responsibility for delivering the Olympic and Paralympic World Class Programmes.

"I'm delighted to join British Athletics at this juncture in its journey," said Symington, 50.

An independent review of the governing body, which was published in May, found that it needed to "transform the way it approaches difficult ethical decisions" and identified "a general culture of mistrust" and "poor behaviours".

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

Symington held coaching roles within British Cycling and British Triathlon before working as a performance advisor at UK Sport.

More recently she spent six years at Archery GB as performance director, and moved to her current role as England Netball's Performance Director in 2015, where she has put in place a full-time programme for the Roses and led them to Commonwealth Games gold in 2018.

She said: "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 and deliver continued success both individually and collectively."

Former performance director Neil Black left the post last October, shortly after Alberto Salazar was banned for doping violations. He died suddenly in April at the age of 60.

Symington will lead a team of coaches and specialists in the build-up to the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. She will also be involved in helping to select British Athletics' new Olympic head coach.

Coates described Symington's appointment as "a major step as we move into an incredibly exciting time for athletics in the UK".

She added: "She will be essential in helping to shape not only a UK-wide performance strategy and talent development system... but also how the sport moves forward and guarantees exemplary cultures and behaviours - and, along with myself, ensures athletes are at the heart of everything we do."

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