VSI student plotting move to the boardroom

THREE-TIME Olympic medalist Kelly Sotherton

THREE-TIME Olympic medalist Kelly Sotherton has revealed her ambition to mastermind a sweeping revolution in the administration of British Athletics.

The 40-year-old former heptathlete is proving a highly successful BBC Radio 5 live go-to expert this week at the World Athletic Championships but she is putting the building blocks in place for a career way above and beyond the commentary box.

Kelly, who retired in 2012, has signed-up alongside a select group of hand picked stars from a range of sports to study for Visionary Sport Investment’s ground breaking MSC in Sporting Directorship that is run in partnership with the Centre for Sports Business in Manchester’s media city.

World renowned academic and celebrated co-author of Carlo Ancelotti’s acclaimed biography, Quiet Leadership, Chris Brady leads a two year part-time program that has caught the imagination of the sports industry at a time when the integrity of athletics, among other sports, has never been more in question.

“Athletics needs major change at multiple levels and I would like to be THE person helping to drive that change and studying on the VSI course will go a long way to delivering my ambitions,” she said.

The course is designed to equip the industry’s next generation of strategic leaders with the skills to manage and govern at the highest level and Kelly is convinced that with athletics, still in the process of developing for the future, she can be at the vanguard of change.

Sadly, doping has been on the agenda all week at the nation’s show piece World Championships with twice banned 100m Champion Justin Gatlin booed by an unforgiving crowd as he received his gold medal from International Association of Athletics Federation President Lord Coe.

The under-fire chief admitted: “I’m not eulogistic that someone who has served two bans has walked off with one of our glittering prizes but he is eligible to be here.”

Kelly who is all to familiar with the pain of being denied her moment on the podium by athletes we now know to be doping offended. The belated awarding of a medal may possibly help lessen the torment for many but it is clear the sport’s credibility is badly damaged.

She said: “Athletics needs to be looked at from top to bottom. Its structure is so disjointed at local, regional and national level.
“Instead we should create an environment where successful former elite athletes can be brought back in to the sport and given the support and training needed to professionalise what we do.

“The leaders in our sport need to be far more diverse in culture. That does not mean token gestures to satisfy that need but getting the best equipped, the most talented people in senior positions.”

Kelly is also intent on driving far greater protection for athletes who put their bodies and minds on the line every day in a bid to deliver the sort of international glory the national craves.

“Our athletes deserve a duty of care which is something that needs addressing in the immediate term.”

VSI Director Tony Faulkner is clearly enthused at the prospect on Kelly signing up for a course he co-founded: He said: “She is bright, passionate, energetic and holds forthright opinions. Sport desperately needs people like her to work at the highest levels.

“This course will give her all the tools she needs to take a major career step forward.”

For more information on the VSI MSc Sporting Directors Programme contact
0845 459 9765