01 Jun 2010
An accomplished Olympian with more than 20 years of international sport experience will serve as the inaugural Chair of the newly created British Olympic Association (BOA) Athletes’ Commission.
Sarah Winckless, a renowned rower who represented Great Britain in three Olympic Games and seven World Championships, will fill a crucial role as the leader of a commission that will provide the voice and perspective of athletes in advising the BOA Board and Management Team on all matters relating to Olympic operations, performance and policy. She will ensure that every key decision taken by the BOA is informed by the perspective of Olympic athletes and that the interests of athletes are a fundamental part of the DNA of the organisation.
Winckless, 36, was selected for the position from a short-list of three exceptional candidates following a three-month search process by the British Olympic Association.
Winckless competed in three successive Olympic Games, culminating in 2004 with a bronze medal in double sculls at the Athens Games. She is also a two-time World Champion, winning gold in quad sculls in 2005 and 2006.
Having retired from competitive world-class sport in 2009, she became Managing Director of SK Win Ltd, where she uses her proven ability to inspire and motivate in a coaching and leadership role. Prior to her competitive athletic career, Winckless graduated from Cambridge University with ‘Blues’ in netball, basketball, athletics and rowing.
In the lead up to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Winckless spent six months working with the BOA while recuperating from injury. During this period she employed her negotiation and management skills to organise a highly successful athlete conference, which helped to prepare over 100 potential Team GB members for Beijing.
Winckless has gained widespread experience of working on behalf of her peers, she holds positions of athlete-focused responsibility in organisations including the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust, CCPR and UK Sport. She was elected Athlete Representative by fellow GB rowing team members following the Sydney 2000 Olympics and retained the role until 2008.
The Athletes’ Commission will consist of 12 members, including Olympians past and present, with representation from both summer and winter sports. The aim is to have a mix of male and female athletes, team sports and individual sports, with up to eight athletes who are either still competing or within four years of retirement, and a further four members who have been retired for between four and 12 years.
Elections for the Athletes’ Commission members will take place in June and the first meeting is expected to take place in September 2010. The first term will run through the London 2012 Olympic Games until December 2012.
BOA Chief Executive, Andy Hunt said:
“I am absolutely delighted that an individual of the calibre of Sarah Winckless is the inaugural Chair of the BOA Athletes’ Commission. Sarah brings with her a unique combination of Olympic experience, having competed in the last three summer Games, together with solid business acumen. I am certain that she will lead the Athletes’ Commission with dynamism and ensure that the athlete voice is effectively communicated in BOA decision-making at board and management level.
“At a time of unparalleled opportunity for British Olympic sport, the introduction of an Athletes’ Commission is a significant step forward for the BOA and I’m really looking forward to the vital contributions and perspective that Sarah, on behalf of the Commission, will bring to our team.”
BOA Chairman, Colin Moynihan said:
“I welcome the appointment of Sarah Winckless as the BOA’s first Athletes’ Commission Chair with great enthusiasm and look forward to her contributions at board level. The creation of an in-house Athletes’ Commission, on the recommendation of the International Olympic Committee, demonstrates the BOA’s commitment to ensuring that athletes have a meaningful voice in decision making concerning all aspects of the BOA’s operations.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the independent British Athletes Commission for their hard work and their continued support and cooperation, in particular Karen Pickering who has performed an excellent service representing British athletes and communicating with the BOA leadership for many years.”
BOA Athletes’ Commission Chair, Sarah Winckless said:
“It is an honour and a privilege for me to accept this role. During my sporting career and subsequently, I have consistently pursued new challenges and opportunities. Through my time as an international competitor and my various roles at the BOA, UK Sport and the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust I have developed a broad understanding of both the current sporting landscape in the UK and the needs of athletes on the ground.
“The BOA has the opportunity to develop and support our past, present and future Olympic athletes and the set-up of an in-house Athletes’ Commission is a huge step towards achieving that objective. As Chair of the commission I will dedicate myself to ensuring that the athletes’ voice is heard and considered in every major decision that the BOA takes.”