Moorcroft criticises the critics

Moorcroft vents his anger with rebuke for critics
By Tom Knight
(Filed: 09/11/2005)

The head of UK Athletics, the normally mild-mannered Dave Moorcroft, has told critics of his administration to stop whingeing and back the reorganisation of the sport.

Moorcroft is no Jose Mourinho when it comes to responding to criticism, claiming that his “natural tendency is for politeness and diplomacy”.

But this time Moorcroft has taken a swipe at the clubs and individuals who are resisting the replacement of the Amateur Athletics Association with England Athletics, the body who will take over the running of the sport in England in April.

In defending the governing body’s record on spending and staff numbers, Moorcroft predicted a dark future for the sport unless it embraced change.

With the failures of so many athletes at the Helsinki World Championships fresh in the memory and the prospect of finding champions for the London Olympics in 2012, Moorcroft’s decision to take the initiative will be seen as timely by those who want athletics to embrace the challenges ahead.

Writing in today’s issue of Athletics Weekly, Moorcroft said: "Unfortunately, I believe we are a sport that is too preoccupied and comfortable living in the ‘yesterday’ and, as a result, we are in danger of marching backwards to a dark future.

"I want to support the pioneers in our sport who are creative thinkers, have energy and enthusiasm and focus on the outcomes of their work, rather than justifying the process; people who truly want athletics to be successful, rather than those who delude themselves defending their comfortable status quo or, worse still, playing silly political games.

"The recent poll of clubs in the UK has indicated two things to me.

“The first is that the majority of people and clubs are bored with the politics and the second is that those that did vote rejected the resisters and opted for change.”

Moorcroft and UK Athletics have come under fire recently from the Association of British Athletics Clubs (ABAC), who have led the campaign against changes that were imposed on the sport by Sir Andrew Foster’s UK Sport-commissioned report in 2004.

Moorcroft said: “The UKA team and our colleagues in the home countries are as passionate about this sport as any volunteer so I’m tired of the hostile denigration by some bitter individuals of our staff.”

Moorcroft, 52, accepted his own shortcomings and called for the sport to rise to the challenge of London 2012.

He said: "Many people in athletics, including on occasions myself, are either so preoccupied with defending what we do or existing within our comfortable little bubble that we cannot see what is staring us in the face.

"Track and field, the coaching, clubs and competition that goes with that has changed very little while other sports and nations have leapt way ahead of us.

"What I find so frustrating is that I really believe the sport has incredible, untapped potential.

“I would ask those who still want to put obstacles in our way to move aside and let those who want to get on with it, get on with it.”

31 October 2005: Walker guides the AAA to a leap of faith