Independent organisation for track and field athletes, led by two-time Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor, formally launches
The Athletics Association has announced its athlete board and initial objectives as the independent organisation formally launches.
The board is made up of representatives from every continent, with Britain’s world heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson and 2017 world relay gold medallist Adam Gemili named as members representing combined events and sprints respectively.
Other global gold medallists on the board include the USA’s Allyson Felix, Shaunae Miller-Uibo of Bahamas, Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and New Zealand’s Tom Walsh.
The new union, which aims to give elite track and field athletes greater say in the future of the sport, was created by two-time Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor last year.
At that time he released a manifesto following changes to the Diamond League series, which saw the triple jump – along with the 200m, 3000m steeplechase and discus – controversially cut from the Diamond League Final.
Now the Athletics Association has outlined its initial objectives, which include announcing its welfare charter and highlighting a commitment to improving the conditions for athletes across a range of issues; gaining a seat at the table with World Athletics “to command real involvement and power when it comes to decision-making in the sport”; presenting World Athletics with “innovative ideas” for the growth of the sport; and lobbying World Athletics and the Diamond League stakeholders regarding the changes to the Diamond League schedule that were announced for 2020.
“The Athletics Association aims to engage in positive dialogue with the sport’s governing body, World Athletics, and their own athletes’ commission, but will of course hold World Athletics to account when necessary and challenge them if they are not acting in the best interest of the athletes,” said the organisation.
Another of the Athletics Association’s initial objectives is to solidify a membership package set to start in January 2021 that will offer athletes access to courses on issues such as financial literacy and life after athletics, plus discounts on products.
“I am very proud of the progress made by the members of the Athletics Association board,” said Taylor, the inaugural president.
“Since its initial inception a lot of work has been put in to establish the right governance and long-term viability that is essential to do justice to the athletes we represent. It’s this that has attracted the commitment and support of the athletes on the board.
“We have athletes from every continent, and a wide variety of disciplines; we are made up of Olympic and world champions, as well as world record-holders and continental champions.
“In addition to the board members, there are so many other athletes who have helped get us to this stage. World Athletics recently published a strategic plan, and athletes have been identified as key stakeholders. The Athletics Association provides a representative voice and a simple way for the sport’s governing body to follow through on their commitment. We are ready to contribute to the growth of the sport that we love, ensuring that athletes are part of the decision-making process.
“This association is for the athletes, by the athletes, and we are determined to make a real difference. We firmly believe that we can affect positive change in our sport. We are ready for the challenge.”
The Athletics Association has also announced a strategic partnership with Global Athlete, a progressive athlete start-up movement aiming to inspire greater athlete representation in organisations across the world of sport.
“The sport of athletics needs to find a new and exciting path for success,” said Athletics Association vice-president Emma Coburn.
“This success can only be possible with real meaningful athlete engagement. Athletes have the desire to further grow the sport while at the same time ensuring the utmost care is given to athletes’ rights. Together we are stronger.”
World Athletics has its own Athletes’ Commission, featuring Renaud Lavillenie as chairman and Valerie Adams as deputy chair.
The Athletics Association board
President: Christian Taylor (USA)
Vice-president: Emma Coburn (USA)
Board members for Athlete welfare: Allyson Felix (USA), Nick Willis (NZL)
Board members representing Africa: Marie Josee Ta Lou (CIV), Julius Yego (KEN)
Board members representing The Americas: Shaunae Miller-Uibo (BAH), Mikel Thomas (TTO)
Board members representing Asia: Ran Urabe (JPN), Ernest Obiena (PHI)
Board member representing Europe: Churandy Martina (Netherlands)
Board members representing Oceania: Nicola McDermott (AUS), Tom Walsh (NZL)
Board members representing endurance/walks: Gen LaCaze (AUS), Evan Jager (USA)
Board members representing sprints: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (JAM), Adam Gemili (GBR)
Board members representing jumps: Tianna Bartoletta (USA), Ruswahl Samaai (RSA)
Board members representing throws: Jenny Dahlgren (ARG), Lukas Weisshaidinger (AUT)
Board members representing combined events: Katarina Johnson-Thompson (GBR), Ashton Eaton (USA)
Click here to read more about the board and the association’s initial objectives.