Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Athletics in Turmoil as Moorcroft Calls It a Day

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Athletics in Turmoil as Moorcroft Calls It a Day

Article excerpt


DAVID MOORCROFT sensationally quit as the head of UK Athletics today as the governing body face their biggest crisis for decades.

After dismal performances at last year's World Championships and at this month's European Championships, the former 5,000metres world record holder has decided it is time to give another chief executive the chance to steer British athletics towards the 2012 London Olympics.

Moorcroft, who worked for the BBC as an athletics pundit after finishing his running career, took charge of the organisation nine years ago when the previous federation was bankrupt.

While he must take huge credit for restoring financial stability to the Midlands-based body and set up several key sponsorship deals, Britain's performances on the track have slumped dramatically since the retirement of stars such as Jonathan Edwards, Colin Jackson and Kelly Holmes.

Many critics believed the 800m and 1,500m gold medals from Holmes and the men's relay gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics only papered over the cracks.

Britain's 10th place in the medals table in Gothenburg this month was the worst of all time. Given that athletics is the most high-profile sport at the Olympics, there have been serious concerns that Britain will be an embarrassing flop in 2012.

However, Moorcroft today chose to highlight recent success at junior levels.

"I am convinced I am taking the right decision at the right time," he said.

"Athletics now has the system, funding, facilities and, most importantly, the people in place to take the sport into the next phase of its development.

"I am proud of the UK Athletics I am leaving behind. The programme of support for athletes at every level is better than ever. It has also been hugely encouraging to see a number of young talented athletes emerging on the international scene over the last year. These athletes will be in their prime in 2012 and athletics in the UK is now in a terrific position to support their Olympic aspirations."

Moorcroft is expected to stay on for up to six months while a new chief executive is appointed.

In addition to the crisis on the track, the 53-year-old has been embroiled in a battle to modernise the organisation of a sport where conservative attitudes often rule at grassroots level. …

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