08 November 2020
Athletics - The way forward 2020-2032
A Strategy document from the governing body
Learning to run, jump and throw is the foundation for a lifetime of activity.
From playground to podium our sport offers everybody, irrespective of size,
shape, cultural background or disability, the opportunity to achieve great
things and to live a healthier and happier life.
Athletics is where it all begins
This is a strategy that represents a new era of collaboration.
Building on the commitment of An Athletic Nation, as a
collective Athletics Northern Ireland, England Athletics,
Scottish Athletics, UK Athletics and Welsh Athletics will work
in partnership to help lead a step change in culture and the
wider quality and sustainability of the sport.
This starts from the top.
This is a strategy that will promote unity and bring a renewed
sense of togetherness across all organisations in the athletics
and running family.
With a greater sense of purpose, we will aim to enrich
people’s lives by enhancing experiences and improving
performance by promoting high standards of delivery and
engagement across the sport.
By focusing on putting athletes and runners of all
abilities at the heart of everything we do, we hope
to sustain and improve opportunities for participants
The sport of athletics has a strong heritage of inclusivity that
we should celebrate. However, there is more we can do at
every level to achieve equality.
Athletics will be a sport where everyone can see themselves
and we see everyone.
To ensure we sustain participation at all levels across the
sport, nurture talent and develop world-class athletes and
para athletes, we will prioritise our efforts on developing
progressive clubs, innovative competitions and major events
and an engaged community of high quality and supported
coaches, officials and volunteers.
This is the long-term strategy for the sport, owned equally by the five
governing bodies of athletics and running in the UK.
Improving performance and developing talented
athletes to succeed on a world stage across all event
disciplines is important but without supporting and
investing in clubs, coaches, competition, officials and
volunteers the strategy will fail.
The ecosystem of the sport is complex and diverse. As five
bodies we will only be able to deliver and influence so much.
We will not be able to do this alone. Therefore, to enable
the successful delivery of the strategy we believe in
working together with partners.
Following the impact of Covid-19 there will be a greater
emphasis on using digital in a world that will require
alternative formats and greater efficiency with less resource,
therefore we will embrace technology.
We will also commit to use an evidence-based approach
to create change, communicate effectively with everyone
involved in the sport, consult regularly and be more
Only by maximising investment into the sport, will we give
ourselves every chance of success.
Our purpose is: “to inspire more athletes and runners of all
abilities and backgrounds to fulfil their potential and to have
a lifelong love for the sport.”
WHY ARE WE HERE?
OUR SPORT IN NUMBERS
Licensed Road Races
in UK talent pathways
Clubs & members bodies
& Field events
(80% Off-track, 20% Track & Field)
Officials & Volunteers
16,500 Licensed Coaches
18,000 Licensed Run Leaders
5,000 Licensed Officials
50,000 Club Volunteers
RunWales, Run NI)
(twice a month)
Fans (major events ticket database)
of Olympic Events
GB & NI finalist in 26 of 47
athletics events, Rio 2016
of the para athletics
team reached their
finals in Rio 2016
OVERCOMING CHALLENGES AND
Through listening to feedback from over 5,000 athletes,
club leaders, volunteers, coaches and officials across
the sport, we know that significant improvement and
change is required. Through the delivery of this strategy
we will address the main challenges and capitalise on the
opportunities facing the sport in 2020.
WE WILL RESOLVE:
• An unclear and complicated structure to the sport that creates
confusion, inefficiency and disjointed communication.
• A negatively pervasive culture caused by a lack of
collaboration that has caused distrust and disengagement
across the sport.
• Decreasing track and field participation levels, large numbers
of young people dropping out of the sport and a decline in
performance levels across some event groups and age groups.
• The lack of high-quality coaches at all levels and across
many event groups.
• An overly bureaucratic approach to recruiting, developing
and retaining officials.
• Competition formats and schedules that do not currently
meet the needs of athletes.
• Major events that don’t all attract the best athletes, build an
engaged fanbase or deliver a sufficiently commercial return.
WE WILL CAPITALISE ON THE OPPORTUNITIES TO:
• Be even more inclusive and promote the diversity of our
• Present the sport more effectively to children and young
• Ensure we learn from recent reviews and create a world
class welfare and safeguarding system.
• Maintain the growth in running/pushing, promote the
benefits and engage more athletes to be part of the
Athletics and Running Family.
WHAT WILL WE HAVE ACHIEVED BY 2032?
We have three bold and ambitious goals that will move us away from a focus on winning medals at all
costs, demonstrate our commitment to supporting the core of the sport and prove that putting the needs
of athletes and runners first can retain participation levels in our sport:
In 2032, GB & NI will
have a representative
in every discipline at
all senior international
In 2032, 95% of the
Paralympic team will
reach their final.
infrastructure of athletics
and running clubs,
and officials that retains
over 250,000 registered
athletes across the UK
and pushing* is the
to stay active:
9 million regular
* ‘Pushing’ relates to wheelchair users participating or racing. 8
HOW WILL WE ENSURE
We will have four guiding principles that we believe
as essential reference points to deliver our Goals:
Everything we do will aim to:
PUT THE ATHLETE FIRST
ENCOURAGE HIGH STANDARDS AND ETHICAL
SUCCESS ACROSS ALL ASPECTS OF THE SPORT
WORK TOGETHER IN
NOT IN ISOLATION 9
WHAT WE WILL PRIORITISE?
We will focus on:
Create an athlete centred, integrated,
aligned, clear, transparent, connected
Create an athlete centred, integrated,
aligned, clear, transparent, connected
Ensuring the growth of running/pushing
in the UK is sustained and results in the
continued growth of the Athletics and
Build and support a respected, expert and
athlete-centred coaching workforce to create
an inclusive, positive athlete experience.
Build and support an engaging, expert
and athlete-centred officiating workforce
to support the successful delivery of
CLUBS, FACILITIES &
Support and develop safe, sustainable
and welcoming clubs to be the best they
can and create vibrant environments for
Delivering the showpieces of our great
sport that athletes aspire to compete
in and that build an engaged fanbase
across the UK.
Maximise athletics opportunities for young
people in schools and community settings
and enhance their first experiences of
running, jumping and throwing.
Lead, regulate and provide a modern
competition structure and pathway across all
disciplines that enhances the experience for
athletes, coaches, officials and spectators at
all levels of the sport.
WHAT WILL HELP US ACHIEVE SUCCESS?
Key supporting activities
will be essential in
enabling us to deliver the
strategic priorities and
ultimately achieve our
This will include:
LEADERSHIP COMMERCIAL MINDS
Develop our assets to maximise funding
and diversify income to re-invest back
into the sport.
Provide strong leadership and transparent
governance representative of the Athletics
and Running Family.
Develop, manage and share high quality
insight, information and engaging content to
help delivery and effective communication.
Embrace technology and enhance digital
systems to help people in the sport.
& CLUB LEADERS
& OFFICIALS RUNNING
In 2032, GB & NI will have a representative in every
discipline at all senior international events.
In 2032, 95% of the Paralympic team will reach
A world-renowned infrastructure of athletics and
running clubs, competitions, coaches and officials
that retains over 250,000 registered athletes across
the UK by 2032.
Athletics, running and pushing is the
nations’ choice to stay active: 9 million
regular participants by 2032.
HOW IT ALL FITS TOGETHER
WE STAND FOR?
In delivering the strategy the following values
will be adopted:
We want people to get excited about our sport, in a safe
environment and enjoy it.
We want people in our sport to be inspired and have the
ambition to succeed at whatever level.
We want people to be respected and treated fairly in our
sport that prides itself on transparency.
We want people to feel welcome
and valued in our sport.
HOW WILL THE STRATEGY BE DELIVERED?
A high-level framework
agreement has been agreed to
direct how the respective bodies
work together and this work will
clarify the respective roles and
responsibilities of each party in
delivering this strategy effectively.
A number of cross organisational
UK wide working groups will be
tasked with developing detailed
thematic strategies and measures
of success in important areas
of work such as development,
coaching, competition, officiating
Success will be measured and
reviewed on regular basis by the
CEO forum and a report will be
produced each year so everyone
across the sport can see how we
are doing. This work will then
directly inform the work of British
Athletics and each HCAF as they
formulate their organisational
In 2032, GB & NI will have a
representative in every discipline at
all senior international events.
In 2032, 95% of the Paralympic
team will reach their final.
A world-renowned infrastructure
of athletics and running clubs,
competitions, coaches and officials
that retains over 250,000 registered
athletes across the UK by 2032.
Athletics, running and
pushing is the nations’
choice to stay active:
9 million regular
participants by 2032.
KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
PERFORMANCE DASHBOARD (CEO Forum)
“To inspire more athletes and runners of all abilities and backgrounds
to fulfil their potential and to have a lifelong love for the sport.”
UKA & HCAF BOARDS
WORKING GROUPS COVERING STRATEGIC PRIORITES
ALL UNDERPINNED BY EQUALITY, DIVERSITY, INCLUSION
Running, Young People, Clubs
A UNIFIED SPORT: WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO
You can’t have one
without the other.
To improve performance of
athletes (Goal 1) we need to
create a world class support
system of clubs, coaches,
officials and competition
(Goal 2) and to make sure
this system flourishes with
a continuous supply of
athletes we need to sustain
participation in the sport
If elite success is achieved,
talented athletes are
developed and major events
are delivered this will inspire
more young people to
participate, existing athletes
to stay in the sport and
attract more commercial
income to re-invest back into
the sport to further support
the strategy and delivery of
SUSTAIN, SUCCEED, INSPIRE
GOAL 3: Athletics, running and pushing
is the nations’ choice to stay active:
9 million regular participants by 2032.
GOAL 2: A world-renowned infrastructure of athletics
and running clubs, competitions, coaches and officials
that retains over 250,000 registered athletes across the
UK by 2032.
GOAL 1: In 2032, GB & NI will have
a representative in every discipline at
all senior international events.
In 2032, 95% of the Paralympic team
will reach their final.
WE WILL... work collectively and collaboratively
to proactively support the delivery of
athletics in the UK
WE HAVE... agreed athlete focussed strategic
goals to drive performance
and participation, with clubs,
competition and people at the
centre of our work.
WE WILL... support and create modernised
structures to support clubs,
coaching, competition and officials’
WE WILL... establish as many shared services as
possible and be more commercially
minded ensuring the maximum
amount of investment goes back
into the delivery of athletics.
WE WILL... create a safe environment where
everyone can enjoy athletics.
WE WILL... provide effective and transparent
leadership which drives great
culture and exhibits the right kind of
WE WILL... provide opportunities and pathways
that welcome everyone to our sport.
This is a strategy that represents new leadership, a new
culture and new call to action for the sport to pull together
to support the delivery of an exciting new era for athletics.
During the summer of 2020 we tested the emerging strategy
and priorities with over 300 clubs. Over 85% of respondents
agreed with the guiding principles of being athlete centred,
encouraging high standards, enhancing experiences and
working in partnership. Our strategic priorities of Clubs,
Facilities and Club Leaders (92%), Coaches/ Officials (92%),
Competition (91%), Young People (91%) and Talent (82%),
Running (74%), Major Events (72%) and Performance (72%)
were met with an equally strong level of support.
We will change opinion. 46% of respondents said they were
optimistic about the future collaborative approach with 24%
indifferent and 30% not convinced.
This is the start of a journey – there is a lot
to do and we are up for the challenges.
A NEW START