British Cycling has appointed Stephen Park, who as Olympic manager led Great Britain’s sailing team to two gold medals at the Rio Olympics this summer, as its new performance director.
The post has been vacant since Sir Dave Brailsford’s departure in early 2014, when Shane Sutton took on the role of technical director. The Australian resigned in April following allegations of bullying and discrimination.
> Former British Cycling coach accuses Sir Dave Brailsford of "lies, bullying and harassment"
Park, 48, has been with sailing’s national governing body, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), for 15 years. During that time, the country’s sailors have won 23 Olympic and Paralympic medals.
Nicknamed ‘Sparky,’ he joins British Cycling next spring following a third Olympic Games in a row in which the country’s track riders have dominated proceedings in the velodrome, and during a period when its road cyclists are enjoying unprecedented success.
Yet it’s also a time when the governing body is facing its greatest challenges in two decades, with a UK Anti-Doping investigation ongoing, as well as an independent review ordered by UK Sport following the allegations of bullying against Sutton and others.
Funding for the next Olympic cycle has been cut by £4 million compared to the past four years, and could be slashed further still depending on the outcome of the UK Sport review.
> British Cycling funding could be withdrawn due to governance issues
Park said: “I feel privileged and excited to be given this opportunity, and look forward to building on the high-performance culture at British Cycling. My role will be to lead the team, support the coaches and the wider staff to continue delivering successful programmes which enable the athletes to fulfil their tremendous potential.
“My time with the RYA has been hugely rewarding, and Olympic Sailing has evolved enormously during my 15 years as Olympic team manager, requiring an inquisitive and innovative approach to stay ahead of the competition.
“As top sailing nation at Rio 2016 and following our review process and recent significant UK Sport funding announcement, I’m confident the team is in great shape for the Tokyo 2020 cycle.
“I would like to convey my deepest appreciation to all the British Sailing Team athletes, staff and across the RYA family – past and present – for their unwavering commitment in support of British Sailing’s medal-winning achievements during my tenure.”
He added: “Clearly cycling poses very different challenges to sailing, but it’s a sport I am very passionate about from a personal perspective.
“I’m looking forward to meeting its challenges head on and working intensively with a highly motivated and experienced group of athletes, coaches and support staff.”
British Cycling president, Bob Howden, said: “We are delighted to welcome Stephen to British Cycling.
“The performance director role is integral to our ambitions looking ahead to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and beyond.
“Following our tremendous success at Rio, we are now at the start of another four-year cycle; one which brings great challenges but also great opportunities to build on success.
“We are confident that, in Stephen, we have the right person in the role to guide us through this cycle and fulfil our ambition to finish top of both medal tables and remain the number one cycling nation in the world.”
He added: “I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Andy Harrison, our programmes director, and his colleagues for leading the team so successfully through recent months.”
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