British Athletics has today announced that Sara Symington has been appointed as Performance Director as the sport in the UK enters a new era.
Symington will lead the coordination of a UK wide performance strategy and talent development system working closely with the Home Country Athletics Federations (HCAFs) and brings with her an unparalleled wealth of knowledge and experience across four sports as an Olympian, a professional athlete and a performance director. She competed for Team GB in cycling at both the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympic Games before moving into coaching roles at British Cycling and British Triathlon and then working as performance advisor at UK Sport.
Symington spent six years as Performance Director for Archery GB leading the Olympic and Paralympic World Class Programmes and in 2015 took up the same position at England Netball where she has delivered an unprecedented period of success including the formation of a full-time World Class Programme for the Roses, the rebuilding of the entire performance pathway and leading England to an historic first ever Commonwealth Games gold medal on the Gold Coast in 2018, which, among many others awards, won Greatest Sporting Moment of the Year and Team of the Year at the BBC Sports Personality show that year.
In her role as Performance Director at British Athletics Symington will be responsible for successfully delivering the UK Sport-funded Olympic and Paralympic World Class Programmes. She joins at a time of significant change in athletics in the UK, with British Athletics and the HCAFs all committed to a new plan to help athletes achieve their goals.
Symington will lead the dedicated team of coaches and other specialists at British Athletics tasked with achieving success in major Games and Championships in the coming years, as well as playing a major role in the sport’s long-term plan which has athletes at the heart of everything it does. She will now also form part of the selection panel for British Athletics’ next Olympic Head Coach to work alongside Paralympic Head Coach Paula Dunn and will begin in the role in the autumn.
Sara Symington, Performance Director at British Athletics, said: “I am delighted to join British Athletics at this juncture in its journey. On a professional level I’m looking forward to sharing some of my experiences whilst learning from others within this great sport, including all the staff, athletes, coaches, stakeholders and partners as to how the sport moves forward but ultimately strives for future success on the world stage.
“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.”
Joanna Coates, CEO at British Athletics, said: “I am extremely excited to welcome Sara as our new Performance Director. Her appointment is a major step as we move into an incredibly exciting time for athletics in the UK and is a brilliant opportunity for her to make a difference both immediately and in planning the future. Sara possesses a vast wealth of knowledge and experience as both an athlete and a successful leader at a number of sports, which will prove vital in our short term planning towards Tokyo and allow us to quickly review and evaluate for the cycle to Paris.
“She will be essential in helping to shape not only a UK wide performance strategy and talent development system working closely with the HCAFs 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. I can’t wait to work with her.”
Sally Munday, CEO at UK Sport, said: “We are pleased to see British Athletics appointing a key leadership position. With two Olympic and Paralympic Games, plus the Commonwealth Games in the next four years, Sara’s appointment will provide critical stability for the World Class Programme, its athletes and personnel. We wish Sara and the whole team every success.”