U.K. Athletics Appoints Peter Eriksson As Its New Head Coach
PETER ERIKSSON, the man who led Great Britain to 29 athletics medals at the London Paralympics, "has been named as the successor to CHARLES VAN COMMENEE" as the head coach of the country’s able-bodied athletics program, according to Simon Hart of the London TELEGRAPH. Eriksson, 59, has worked for U.K. Athletics since '09 as the head of the Paralympic program and "will be moving sideways to take up the role vacated by van Commenee after his decision to quit last month following his failure to hit his eight-medal target at the London Olympics." Britain’s "performance under his leadership at the London Paralympics exceeded all expectations, with the country rising to third place in the athletics medal table after finishing down in 18th position in Beijing in '08." U.K. Athletics' newly appointed Performance Dir NEIL BLACK said, "He is a rare talent, fantastically well positioned to now assume leadership of the Olympic team and to build on the impressive progress the sport has made between Beijing and London" (TELEGRAPH, 10/29). In London, Patrick Kidd reported that Eriksson, declaring that the job was a "fantastic privilege," said that "Britain can build on the four Gold Medals won in track and field at London 2012 with a lot of talented young athletes coming through the system," such as pole vaulter HOLLY BLEASDALE, and sprinter ADAM GEMILI. Eriksson said, "We have a golden generation in front of us who can perform even better at the 2016 Olympics and 2017 World Championships" (LONDON TIMES, 10/29). The PA wrote that "the recruitment had been shrouded in secrecy since van Commenee’s announcement, with U.K. Athletics successfully keeping a lid on speculation." Welshman TUDOR BIDDER, who operates in a similar role for the Australian Institute of Sport, "was linked with the post in recent days with Eriksson another name in the frame." Eriksson "will work closely" with U.K. Athletics CEO NIELS DE VOS and Black. KEVIN TYLER, who worked closely with van Commenee as head of coaching development, "had been the early favourite for the top job before deciding to return to Canada" (PA, 10/29).