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Park to swap sails for saddles in move to British Cycling

by Lindsey Bell, RYA 23 Dec 2016 11:41 GMT 23 December 2016
Stephen Park © Richard Langdon / British Sailing Team

After 15 years as the RYA's Olympic Manager, Stephen Park OBE is to take up a new post as the Great Britain Cycling Team's Performance Director.

Park guided the British Sailing Team to the top of the sport's medal table in Rio, and is to become British Cycling's first Performance Director since 2014.

The 48-year-old has been the RYA's Olympic Manager for the past four Olympic cycles, with Britain's world-beating sailors amassing 23 Olympic and Paralympic medals during his time at the helm. He will start work at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester in the spring of 2017.

Park said: "My time with the RYA has been hugely rewarding and Olympic sailing has evolved enormously during my 15 years as team manager, requiring an inquisitive and innovative approach to stay ahead of the game. As top sailing nation at Rio 2016 and following our review process I'm confident the team is in great shape for the Tokyo 2020 cycle, and I would like to thank the British Sailing Team athletes and staff for their unwavering commitment in support of sailing's medal-winning ambitions during my tenure.

"I feel enormously privileged and excited to be given the opportunity to take my experiences into working with another world-leading sport, and look forward to building on the high performance culture at British Cycling. My role will be to support the coaches and the support team and enable them to be successful while also aiding the athletes in fulfilling their potential.

"Clearly as a sport cycling poses very different challenges to sailing, but it's a sport I am very passionate about from a personal perspective, and I'm looking forward to meeting its challenges head on and with a highly motivated and experienced group of athletes and support staff alongside me."

RYA Performance Director, John Derbyshire OBE, paid tribute to Park's achievements and dedication to the role: "We will be very sad to see Sparky – as everyone knows him – move on from the British Sailing Team, but understand and support his desire for a new challenge and as an avid cyclist this was an understandable draw for him to lead another hugely successful British Olympic programme.

"Four Games cycles as the RYA's Olympic Manager is a long stint given the demands of the role, and with some huge changes and challenges seen within the sport during that time. Sparky has met these challenges head on, and always with the interests of the World Class Programme first and foremost.

"Our sincere thanks go to him for his many years of drive, commitment and achievement in helping keep sailing one of the UK's leading Olympic sports, and we wish him every success as he attempts to maintain that trend with British Cycling.

"This move will enable the RYA to review and refresh the programme which is an exciting opportunity, and thanks to a detailed strategy and a successful funding award from UK Sport, we can be confident in our own plans for the Tokyo 2020 cycle and will begin the search for a new Olympic Manager to take that forward early in the new year."

UK Sport Director of Performance Chelsea Warr added: "Sailing's World Class Programme strategy for Tokyo 2020 is excellent and UK Sport has every confidence in the knowledge and experience the RYA has to deliver at the highest level.

"We look forward to working with John Derbyshire and Stephen's successor in the coming years to keep Great Britain the world's leading sailing nation."

Follow the British Sailing Team's latest news and updates at www.britishsailingteam.com, on Facebook or on Twitter.

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