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Competitions review response

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 (Column by UKA Director of Athlete Development Zara Hyde-Peters, as seen in Athletics Weekly magazine)

 

22 October 2007

 

The recent competition proposals paper co-signed by Jack Buckner, Cherry Alexander and myself has received a significant amount of coverage within the pages of Athletics Weekly, on internet message boards, via feedback provided by email and from various other forums.

 

“A Future vision for track and field athletic competition” was, as I stated in last week’s Athletics Weekly, a vision – rather than a dictate. This in itself seems to have reassured many of our traditional critics who think we publish in tablets of stone.

 

Much has been made of “headline grabbing” initiatives that have plenty of spin and little substance but the reaction to the competition review I am glad to see has been wholly positive, with even staunch critics of UK Athletics able to look at it with open minds and offering highly constructive feedback.

 

After all – this is what we should always be open to.  It is not the norm for any review or set of proposals to be wholeheartedly accepted – nor would anyone involved with this review have expected that.  I believe that the support we have had for the underpinning principles of the review has been the most consistent, and I hope that this agreement will help us to work through any differences on the implementation process.

 

As Charles Gains pointed out in the AW letters page (4 Oct), it is easy to trawl through and find things to criticise, but doing so would be to miss the point of the exercise.

 

The purpose of this second competitions paper was twofold - to set a vision for the future of our sport, and ally this to a framework that would be implemented in conjunction with local delivery organisations.  The proposals strive to balance direction for the future with the need to incorporate local variations that reflect the diverse nature of the UK and the delivery of athletics across the nation.

 

Many have asked – what next?  Jack Buckner has been out and about on behalf of UKA providing facilitation and support to early meetings of the region/home country competition working groups that the report recommended as the architects of next steps.

All understand that there is a balance to be struck between direction from UKA and involvement from the grassroots of the sport.

 

Key messages through these forums so far include making sure the detail is worked through with local organisations; they offer broad support but need time to implement in conjunction with UKA.  There is strong support for the age group changes – indeed it is important to note that this was a change, proposed, requested and driven by the feedback we received after making our initial proposals - but a desire to temper implement with the recognition that change on this scale can’t happen overnight.

 

On a personal note I have had some great debate with many individuals in the sport who are passionate about competition; after all, competition is our sport!  I am really looking forward to getting stuck into the implementation discussions and working towards sharing stage 3 of this project – how the sport will achieve its vision.