Richard Bowker steps down as UK Athletics chairman

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Stock photo. UK Athletics Championships 2010. Photo: William Warby via Flickr

UK Athletics have announced that Chairman Richard Bowker is to step down and leave at the end of the month.

Bowker, who has a wealth of business and sporting experience, took over the role from Ed Warner eighteen months ago.

It follows the organisation’s Member Council losing confidence in his leadership, resulting in a vote on his future in what had been labelled a “crisis“.

In a statement released by UK Athletics today, he was credited with developing competition and coaching to ensure athletics will remain “a leading sport” over the next few years, as well as the innovation of last summer’s Athletics World Cup.

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But Bowker has also been criticised over the event, given that it was held on the same weekend as the FIFA World Cup final and Wimbledon tennis finals – and because a number of British champions didn’t take up their earned places in London – a week before the Anniversary Games in the same stadium.

He insisted to Athletics Weekly following it’s launch that the sport had the “ability to cut through…and would more than hold it’s own”.

The 53-year-old is also said to have been interested in merging with England Athletics in order to cut costs, a move EA have steadfastly rejected, leading reports to call disagreements an “English Civil War“.

Prior to becoming Chairman, Bowker had a successful background in the transport industry as Chief Executive of the National Express and the UAE’s Etihad Rail. He also led the UK’s Strategic Rail Authority, and is an independent director of the English Football League.

The decision follows Niels de Vos stepping down as Chief Executive four months ago.

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Sarah Rowell will take on the role of interim Chair. Rowell is the former British record holder for the women’s marathon set in London in 1985, the year after finishing 14th in the Olympic Marathon in Los Angeles (above, left).

She represented Great Britain between 1983 and 1996 on the road, cross country and mountain running, where she was world silver medallist in 1992.

Rowell says she is “honoured” to have been promoted and wants to make sure the sport is in great shape with a World Championships and Olympic Games approaching. She wants to make sure “clubs, coaches and volunteers are best placed to support current and future generations of athletes.”

Elected onto the IAAF Road Running Commission in 2016, Rowell is also a Council Member of the World Mountain Running Association. She’ll take a break from her duties on the London Marathon board while Chair of UK Athletics.