Former Paralympic head coach Peter Eriksson is the replacement for Charles van Commenee at UK Athletics
Peter Eriksson has today been revealed as the successor to Charles van Commenee as head coach of UK Athletics.
It is the latest – and most high-profile – appointments made by the governing body in recent weeks, following the promotion of Neil Black to performance director and the hiring of Steve Peters as team psychiatrist.
Eriksson, 59, was born and raised in Sweden and began his sporting career as a speed skater, competing in the World Championships of that sport in the Seventies.
His focus then switched to athletics and he went to the 1980 Olympic Games as an apprentice team coach for the Swedish athletics team. Two years later he began coaching disabled athletes and that soon became his area of expertise.
He moved to Canada in the Eighties and became head coach for track and field athletes in the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association, where one of his most successful charges was multiple Paralympic champion Chantal Petitclerc.
In 2009 Eriksson was hired by UK Athletics as head coach and performance director for the Paralympic programme. As part of that role he has coached a handful of the country’s top disability athletes, including Hannah Cockroft who won two gold medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Eriksson, who will move on from his role as UKA’s Paralympic Head Coach with immediate effect, has been an integral part of UKA’s 2012 task force, the group set up by CEO Niels de Vos following the Beijing 2008 Games to deliver improved medal success in London. Since his arrival in 2009 he has been working alongside Black and Van Commenee.
“It is a great privilege to be asked to take on this role,” said Eriksson. “I will continue with the methods and approach that has proved so successful in the Paralympic arena, and that has been about strong performance management of our best medal prospects to maximise the likelihood of medal winning performances.
“The Olympic team performed very well in London, finishing fourth in the world with four golds so I have a great platform on which to build. But I believe that we can still do better in Rio 2016, and of course when the IAAF World Athletics Championships take place in the London Olympic Stadium in 2017. The next five years look like an exhilarating time for British athletics.”
Black is confident that Eriksson is the right man for the job. “Peter has proved time and again that he has the priceless ability to lead and inspire athletes to deliver when it matters most – at the biggest championships, on the global stage,” he said. “He is a rare talent, fantastically well positioned to now assume leadership of the Olympic team, and to build on the impressive progress the sport has made between Beijing and London.”
Meanwhile, Olympic silver medallist Christine Ohuruogu was pleased to see Eriksson being promoted to the role. “I have such a lot of respect for Peter and what he’s achieved,” she said.
“I’ve been in the fortunate position where I was with him over the summer at the Paralympic Games holding camp and I was struck by the fact that he did whatever he could do get the best out of the athletes – he had a real no-nonsense approach and was totally focused on winning medals.
“I think Peter has shown that he’s willing to make hard decisions. He has also shown he has great intuition; I don’t think my coach Lloyd (Cowan) was an obvious choice to work at the Paralympics but Peter saw something in him. His work will give other coaches confidence that they too may have a skill set that has not been recognised before but could be recognised by Peter –I’m really happy he’s been appointed in this role.”