By Duncan Mackay

Sophia Warner_head_and_shouldersJune 1 - Sophia Warner, one of Britain's biggest hopes for a medal at the Paralympics in London, has been appointed as the new commercial director of UK Athletics, it has been announced. 

Warner, a T35 Cerebral Palsy athlete who won 200 metres silver and 100m bronze at the IPC World Championships in Christchurch last year, will officially take up her new role after the Games in October.

The 37-year-old is a respected marketing professional.

Warner – a married mother of two young children as well as a full-time athlete based in Hove, West Sussex – was included on UK Athletics' World Class Performance Programme following her World Championships performances.

She has been an international athlete since 1998 but London will be her first Paralympics as her events were only recently included on the programme.

Sophia Warner_coming_out_of_the_blocks
As a result Warner took a sabbatical from her category marketing controller position at Palmer & Harvey, a firm which provides nationwide distribution facilities for small shops across Britain, to focus on preparing for London 2012. 

Warner's position further strengthens the links between UK Athletics and the Paralympic Movement.

Ed Warner, the chairman of UK Athletics, is also the head of the International Paralympic Committee's Athletics Sport Technical Committee.

"Sophia's appointment is the final piece in our jigsaw having taken full responsibility for our commercial programme in house in March," said Niels de Vos, the chief executive of UK Athletics.

"We have exciting plans to develop both our brand and our commercial strategy in order to take maximum advantage of the profile the 2012 Games will bring to Athletics.

"Sophia has 15 years high level experience in consumer marketing, including stints at Nestle, P&H and BT and has worked with major sponsors like Proctor and Gamble.

"That experience, coupled with the insight of a professional elite athlete, makes her the ideal person for this role, and I could not be more delighted that she is joining us."

For Warner it represents an exciting new challenge after London 2012.

"I'm thrilled that I have been given this opportunity to combine my love of athletics with my profession," she said.

"I have a great passion for both and I believe post 2012 offers even more opportunities for our sport than pre-Games.

"We have already secured major international events post London, including the 2013 European Team Championships and the 2017 World Athletics Championships, giving a real opportunity for the story to continue.

"Then add in the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games and you have a compelling prospect for any commercial partner.

"I will continue to throw everything into my preparations for the Games, but following that, I can channel my energies into a new and exciting career at a pivotal time for the number one Olympic and Paralympic sport." 

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