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UK Athletics

Athlete Mentors Announced

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UK Athletics has appointed four athlete mentors to assist current senior and junior athletes in their long term preparations for major championships and their lives as professional athletes.


Double Olympic Champion Daley Thompson and Olympic Bronze Medallist Katharine Merry will work with Britain’s junior talent, whilst Olympic 100m Champion Linford Christie and Olympic Silver Medallist Steve Backley will work primarily in a coaching support capacity for senior athletes.


The appointment of the four mentors is an integral part of the overall Performance vision of UK Athletics and is funded as a result of Norwich Union’s £50 million commitment to athletics until 2012. 


Each will be passing on their extensive experience to Britain’s most talented athletes to help the Norwich Union GB & NI Team at all levels achieve the long term goals of improving performances and medal tallies at major championships.


Both Christie and Backley will travel to Gothenburg to observe the senior Norwich Union GB & NI Team in action, whilst Merry will accompany the junior team to Beijing.


Dave Collins, Performance Director of UK Athletics comments: “We have chosen these four athletes as they have demonstrated the commitment required for their respective roles and have tremendous track records as athletes in their own right.  They each have much to offer the sport of athletics and they have the instant respect of our senior and junior athletes.  This is the first of the major changes announced as a result of our increased funding package from Norwich Union and we may introduce further mentors as time progresses. We are looking forward to working with all four to help ensure our teams are prepared both physically and mentally for the challenges ahead.”


Olympic Gold Medallist Darren Campbell, who will be competing at the European Championships, will also fly out to Beijing as an ambassador for UK Athletics to observe and learn how the mentors will operate.  He said: “This is fantastic news for British athletics. I’ve been incredibly fortunate throughout my career to not only have Linford as my coach, but also as my mentor.  My success on the track is testament to his ability as much as mine and I’m pleased that other athletes will have access to the same knowledge and experience that all four mentors have to offer.


Tanya Veingard, Head of Sponsorship and CSR for Norwich Union said, “We are delighted to support the mentors and have seen first hand what a difference a mentor can make with our work with Kelly Holmes’ ‘On Camp with Kelly’ initiative.  Two of the girls involved have already made the Norwich Union GB Team for Beijing and we will be watching them closely.  Now, with Daley, Linford, Steve and Katharine, other athletes both senior and junior will have access to some of the most inspirational, motivational and iconic athletes Britain has produced.”


The Mentors


Linford Christie said:  “It’s great that Norwich Union and UK Athletics have recognised the positive impact that mentors can have and I am looking forward to working with some existing athlete/coach partnerships to help athletes prepare mentally for the international stage.  There is a lot of talent in this country and sometimes it is something as simple as self belief that is missing.”


Steve Backley added: “There are many former athletes like myself, Linford, Daley and Katharine who have a great deal to offer the sport.  Since my retirement from competition, I’ve been developing as a coach and want to be able to help give the team as much of a competitive advantage as possible.  If I can help in any way by improving the performance of individual athletes then we’ll all benefit.”


Daley Thompson is also looking forward to his role with the juniors, “There are some great kids out there with plenty of talent, what I want to offer them is an insight into how to become a more professional athlete. I hope that I can pass on to them some of the experience I have and instil in them a more competitive attitude in the build up to future championships – be it the Commonwealth Games in Delhi or London 2012.”


Katharine Merry said: “I’m really looking forward to seeing the juniors in action in Beijing.  Not only will it be a fantastic experience for them, but it will also show them what to expect in a major championship.  I will be looking closely at all of them and identifying ways in which I can help bring my experiences to bear.”