British Athletics chief quits after 7 months

Outgoing head of UK Athletics Peter Eriksson. Picture: Getty
Outgoing head of UK Athletics Peter Eriksson. Picture: Getty
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BRITISH Athletics head coach Peter Eriksson is devastated to be leaving his “dream job” after just seven months, admitting there is no better role in the athletics world.

Having led the Paralympic team to third place at London 2012, the 66-year-old took over as Olympic head coach from Charles van Commenee last October.

Eriksson had penned a five-year deal that would have taken him through until the 2017 World Championships in London, but it was announced yesterday he will leave the role at the end of next month to return to Canada to be with his family.

“This has been a very tough decision for me because when I got this job six months ago, it was my dream job,” Eriksson said. “There could not be a better job in the business of athletics.

“I’ve always had great support from the board and the leadership of the organisation.

“I have been fortunate to work with a lot of fantastic coaches and support staff throughout. Whatever happens in the future, whatever I do in the future, nothing is going to be like working in the top team in the Premier League as it is to work for British Athletics.

“It is a decision that is based on my family and there is nothing I can do about that.”

Eriksson revealed he has not returned to Canada since Christmas and, while the organisation has been helpful, has found it tough being restricted to short stints.

The Swede will be looking for a new job once he leaves British Athletics – joking he has no choice with four daughters – and is looking forward to seeing how the British team progresses without him.

Eriksson will continue in the role until the end of June and will lead the team to the European Team Championships in Gateshead.

Performance director Neil Black will oversee the organisation’s head coach duties for the remainder of the summer and at the World Championships in Moscow, with British Athletics chief executive officer Niels de Vos keen not to make any rash decisions.

“Clearly focusing on Moscow is important and the focus on the recruitment process, and indeed all our planning process, is longer term than that,” he said.

“The major goal on our horizon is the year 2016-17, with the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games and home World Championships.

“It is not a short-term appointment process and we clearly know most of the people in the field, but we’re not starting this tomorrow or the next day.

“We’re going with what we have through to Moscow led by Neil, as would have always been the case anyway, and we look to make the right appointment to lead us through the next four-year cycle.”

De Vos insists British Athletics will not be deviating from its structure of a performance director overseeing the head coach of the Olympic and Paralympic teams.

He also rejected the notion that Eriksson’s replacement needs to be a home-grown coach to avoid similar problems arising again.

“We haven’t even started the process yet,” De Vos added. “That is not is something I am even to comment on.

“I think it would be unfair to suggest this is a situation that was inevitable.

“I don’t want to go into personal circumstances, that would be inappropriate, but I think you can see Peter managed it fantastically successfully for four years and there was no reason when we started this process to assume it wouldn’t carry on for another four years.

“It is a personal tragedy at the moment and we have to move on.

“We have got a great structure to allow us to move on and make sure we have a really good replacement.”