The two-time Olympic cyclist has previously held leadership roles at Archery GB and England Netball
Sara Symington has been announced as the new performance director at UK Athletics (UKA) and will begin her new role in the autumn.
The two-time Olympic cyclist, who competed as a javelin thrower as a junior, is to lead the coordination of a “UK-wide performance strategy and talent development system”, working closely with the home country athletics federations (HCAFs).
Symington represented Great Britain 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.
She spent six years as performance director for Archery GB and in 2015 took up the same position at England Netball, where she worked with UKA’s CEO Joanna Coates.
UKA launched its search for a new performance director and an Olympic head coach in June, as part of what has been described as “a new era” for the sport.
The national governing body’s performance culture had previously been criticised in an independent review, for which the findings were exclusively published in AW magazine earlier this 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,” said UKA. “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.”
Symington will now form part of the selection panel for British Athletics’ next Olympic head coach, who will work alongside Paralympic head coach Paula Dunn.
“I am delighted to join British Athletics at this juncture in its journey,” said Symington. “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.”
Coates said: “I am 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.”