By Gary Anderson

November 28 - David Grace has appointed as the new head of Athletics Australia © Getty Images Athletics Australia today announced the appointment of David Grace as its new President and chairman following a meeting of its Board at the governing body's Annual General Meeting at Melbourne's Lakeside Stadium.

Grace joined the Athletics Australia Board of Directors in 2006 and has been vice-president since 2011, and replaces the retiring Rob Fildes who has served as the organisation's President for eight years.

A well respected sports administrator and lawyer, Grace first joined Athletics Australia in 2001 when he was appointed chair of the Athletics Australia Tribunal, a role he occupied until 2006.

As well as running his own law practice in Melbourne, which specialises in appellate advocacy, Grace holds a number of other prominent positions, including general counsel for the West Coast Eagles Football Club, the co-chair of the National Criminal Law Committee of the Law Council of Australia and is a director of the Sentencing Advisory Council of Victoria.

A lifelong member of the Ajax Maccabi Athletics Club in Melbourne, Grace has been involved in athletics for over 50 years and has previously competed in interclub, state and national competitions as a sprinter and jumper.

Grace promised he will work hard to establish greater cooperation between Athletics Australia and other sporting bodies in the country, including the possible merger with Little Athletics Australia, which focuses on promoting and organising athletics events for children aged between five to 16-years-old.

Rob Fildes has held the role of President and chairman of Athletics Australia since 2005 © Getty Images Rob Fildes has held the role of President and chairman of Athletics Australia since 2005
©Getty Images

"My appointment as the President of Athletics Australia is something that I am very excited about, and I look forward to tackling the many challenges we face as a sport alongside a very capable team of Directors," said Grace, who was Australian team advocate at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

"While the pursuit of a possible merge with Little Athletics Australia will remain a key priority, it is important that we as a sport continue to execute our strong plans in the areas of able-bodied and Para-athletics high performance, coaching development, competition and participation.

"It is vital that we work hard to assist in the delivery of the Australian Institute of Sport's Winning Edge programme and extremely important that while we continue to operate independently as Athletics Australia we explore all avenues that could lead to improved commercial viability for the sport.

"Athletics is something that has been in my blood for half-a-century, and I will bring an extensive understanding of our sport's landscape to the role.

"I am looking forward to working alongside my capable Board of Directors, and the track and field community as a whole, for the betterment of the sport long term."

Matthew Mahon will take over the vice-president position vacated by Grace and will work alongside fellow vice-President Nick Moore, while the Board of Directors will also include Anne Lord, Melissa Babbage, Peter Bromley and Nathan Deakes.

Grace will take over the President and chairman's role with immediate effect and he paid tribute to the work of his predecessor Fildes.

"Rob has been a true servant of athletics in Australia and I congratulate him on a job well done," added Grace.

"He has left the sport in a much stronger position than when he took the reins in 2005, with healthy capital reserves and a strong relationship with our key partners including the Australian Sports Commission, the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations), the Australian Olympic and Paralympic Committees and the Australian Commonwealth Games Association."

The Lakeside Stadium in Melbourne hosts an annual IAAF World Challenge Series event due to the work of out-going Athletics Australia President Rob Fildes © Getty Images The Lakeside Stadium in Melbourne hosts an annual IAAF World Challenge Series event due to the work of out-going Athletics Australia President Rob Fildes ©Getty Images

Along with being a strong supporter of the merger with Little Athletics Australia, Fildes has played an important role in the development of Athletics House at the Lakeside Stadium and has also been pivotal in the establishment of the IAAF Melbourne World Challenge as a fixture on the IAAF World Challenge series.

"Athletics Australia is a fantastic organisation to be involved with and I am confident that it will continue to develop and succeed in the years to come," said Fildes.

"It has embraced the Australian Institute of Sport's Winning Edge program and continues to develop in the areas of coaching and participation.

"The sport is stronger now than it has been in many years and this is a humbling result given the extensive time that my fellow Directors and I contribute alongside the capable team of executive management and staff."

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