Saturday 10 December 2016

Tough task for Ankrom

Published 08/05/2011 | 05:00

KEVIN ANKROM got an easy baptism last week. The Illinois native is the new High Performance Director at Athletics Ireland and he was formally introduced at a press briefing on Wednesday.

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Ankrom's enthusiasm for his new position certainly shone through and he seems determined to make an impact. He appears to have done a good job in his previous postings. The former high jumper cut his coaching teeth in the US collegiate system and comes to Ireland from New Zealand, where he was High Performance Director. He has also worked in Hong Kong and Bahrain.

He spoke a lot of common sense last Wednesday and in time may prove a good appointment.

But there are facts which must be faced. His appointment comes after a period of three years where the job has effectively been vacant. Our elite athletes, those who harbour the greatest ambitions when it comes to next year's Olympics, have been operating in a cocoon, with their own support structures. These athletes will not divert now from the path they have been on just because a position that should have been filled, at the very least, at the start of this Olympic cycle, has finally been filled, regardless of the merits of the new man.

And there are realities which must be faced too. Athletics Ireland has lost the trust of most of our top athletes, and its credibility to manage the affairs of the sport has been damaged. It is also a deeply political organisation. Ankrom will need time to adjust, so it is hard to see how he can make any meaningful difference before next year's Olympics.

But if AI are happy that they have finally got their man, then they need to be mature enough to give him the time and space he needs, and that more than likely means thinking beyond London 2012.

jgreene@independent.ie

Sunday Indo Sport

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