AUGUST 24 – DAVID MOORCROFT (pictured) has resigned as the chief executive of UK Athletics because he did not see himself still being in charge when London stages the Olympics in 2012.
But the 53-year-old former world 5,000 metres record holder has denied it has anything to do with Britain’s poor performance at the European Championships in Gothenburg earlier this month, when they failed to win an individual gold medal for the first time ever.
“I am convinced that I am taking the right decision at the right time,” Moorcroft 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 have been chief executive for nine challenging and rewarding years and I have decided it is the right time to let someone new take the helm and lead the sport through to 2012.”
Moorcroft took over a fledgling UK Athletics in 1997 at a time when the previous federation was bankrupt. He led the establishment of a new governing body, restored financial stability and guided the sport’s restructure through the Foster Review of 2004. He leaves behind the most commercially and financially successful athletics federation in the world with an annual income of £18 million.
“I am proud of the UK Athletics I am leaving behind,” said Moorcroft. “The programme of support for athletes at every level is better than it has ever been. 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 said the fact that so many youngsters did well at the European Championships – seven of the eight individual medallists were won by athletes under the age of 25 – compensated for the relative lack of success.
“It has been hugely encouraging to see a number of young talented athletes emerging on the international scene over the last year,” he said. “These athletes will be in their prime in 2012 and athletics in the UK is now in the position to support their aspirations.”
Moorcroft, the 1978 Commonwealth Games 1500m champion, plans to stay on for six months while his successor is found. Early names mentioned include Jon Ridgeon, the managing director of Fast Track and a former international hurdler, and Geoff Wightman, the chief executive of Scottish Athletics and a qualified lawyer.
But former world mile record holders Sebastian Coe, the chairman of London 2012, and Steve Cram, the chairman of the English Institute of Sport, both ruled themselves out immediately.
“Dave has given so much to athletics in this country,” said Lynn Davies, the president of UK Athletics. “He has secured the financial solvency of the sport and played a key role in its restructuring. The Olympics 2012 represents a new chapter in our sport and although I am saddened by Dave’s resignation, I admire his professionalism in wanting to give the incoming CEO enough time to oversee the next phase.
“The whole of the athletics community now needs to come together and collectively step up and meet the biggest challenge in our sport’s history. I sincerely hope that Dave can continue to fulfill a role in the sport. His commitment and passion remains a wonderful example to all our aspiring athletes.”
British Olympic Association chief executive Simon Clegg also hailed Moorcroft’s contribution and predicted that his experience would see him headhunted by other sporting bodies.
“He has achieved much in the sport since he took over nine years ago, just as the sport went into administration,” said Clegg. “I am confident that his skills and experience will be sought elsewhere in sport, particularly in the build-up to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.”