Friday 20 April 2018

Coaching key target area for Adams in new role as CEO of Irish athletics

Athletics Ireland CEO John Foley retires at the end of April. Photo: Sportsfile
Athletics Ireland CEO John Foley retires at the end of April. Photo: Sportsfile

Cathal Dennehy

Following a lengthy search for a new CEO, Athletics Ireland announced yesterday that Hamish Adams will take the reins in its key position after John Foley retires at the end of April.

The New Zealand native will start his new role at the beginning of May, bringing to an end a five-year term as CEO of Rowing Ireland. He gained the green light following a selection process which had whittled a vast array of candidates down to three, all of whom were understood to be current CEOs of sporting institutions.

During his time at Rowing Ireland, Adams oversaw a sport which enjoyed a huge surge in participation and much success at international level, highlighted by the silver medals won by the O'Donovan brothers at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

In a statement released by Athletics Ireland, Adams noted that coaching would be one key area he hoped to improve - an area in which many in Irish athletics have long called for further investment.

"High performance and coaching as well as the national health agenda to increase physical activity levels are areas I am especially passionate about and I plan to contribute significantly in these areas," Adams said.

Fallout

During his time as CEO, Foley steadied the ship at the helm of Athletics Ireland, which was still enduring the fallout from a costly legal case when he was first appointed in September 2009.

The case left a hole in the association's budget, but Foley proved adept at recruiting new sponsors to balance the books in the years that followed.

Since 2009 the membership of Athletics Ireland has more than doubled to over 60,000, the result of widespread work at grassroots level and a surge in participation in road races.

Last week Sport Ireland announced that Athletics Ireland will receive €887,000 in core grant funding in 2018 - the highest of any single-sport governing body - in addition to €790,000 in high-performance funding.

Whether that is sufficient to truly impact on coaching structures remains to be seen, with a dearth of professional coaches operating here.

Under Adams, Rowing Ireland succeeded in creating high-performance hubs with its top talent, but the geographical spread and range of disciplines in athletics will make this much trickier in his new role.

But Adams should be well-versed in the politics of Irish sport and its coaching structures, having helped develop the Munster Rugby Academy in 2004 and the player welfare programme in 2008 in his previous role with the Irish Rugby Union Players Association.

Irish Independent

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