Paula Radcliffe wants future athletics bosses to listen to stars and engage with grassroots after CEO walkout

PAULA RADCLIFFE believes UK Athletics can be fixed – but only if future bosses listen to the athletes.

Track-and-field was rocked on Thursday night by the sudden departure of CEO Joanna Coates and performance director Sara Symington less than two years into the job.

Many stars were left angry and frustrated they found out via social media or newspaper websites rather than contacted directly or through their agents first.

Though Mark Munro will take over as Interim CEO for six months, it has left a void at the top of the governing body and means Coates’s reforms for the next decade are in chaos.

Radcliffe, former world record holder for the women’s marathon, told SunSport: “I was quite surprised that it happened like that overnight.

“Those athletes shouldn’t be learning about the outcome through the media. They should be told in person first and that was a massive mistake.

“I hope athletics can find people who love athletics, have a passion for athletics, and will stick by it and do the right thing.

“It shouldn’t in my opinion just be a job – it should be a passion.

“It should be for someone who loves and understands athletics and support the athletes and cares about the athletes.

“Is the sport fixable? Absolutely. It’s a wonderful sport. We have to work together. We have to stop pulling at each other.

“My advice is get out there and listen to the athletes, coaches and parents. Go out and visit the sport at the grassroots.

“If you aren’t working with them or not talking to proper elite athletes and grassroots athletes coming through, you’ve no chance moving forward in the future.

“There has to be open dialogue, more trust and go back to basics. Bring all the great elements that we have in this country.

“Our clubs system, our coaching system, our grassroots system is second to none.

“It’s really important at the top level that the top athletes feel like they are being listened to and supported.”

Team GB won no gold medals in athletics at the Tokyo Olympics – the first time that has happened since the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Radcliffe, who won three London Marathons in a stellar career, reckons the next boss of the sport doesn’t necessarily have to be an ex-athlete or multiple medallist.

The 47-year-old, based in the south of France, would consider a possible advisory role if one was offered but nothing full-time or permanent.

Radcliffe, speaking at the launch of the inaugural Indy Health Week, said: “It has to be somebody that loves and understands the sport and is passionate about it and doesn’t have their own agenda.

“We saw some exciting results at Tokyo across the board.

“There are a lot of positives. If we put the right person in charge, then UK Athletics is in a good place.”

Today is the launch of the inaugural Indy Health Week, which is designed to help the nation live healthier lifestyles and to recognise the contribution independent health stores make to the well-being of communities. Visit for details.

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