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AAI Announces High Performance Director Kevin Ankrom to return to USA


Athletics Ireland today announced that Kevin Ankrom, the Association’s High Performance Director, has decided to step down from his role at the end of his current contract.  “After 15 continuous years working around the world in similar roles and two Olympic Games with Ireland, the decision to leave has been a difficult one, but I feel it is the right time for me and my young family to return to the USA”, he said. 

Kevin Ankrom was appointed to his position in Ireland in 2011 and during his tenure Athletics Ireland saw substantial change in the way the Association delivers its High Performance programme. The Programme has seen systems and structures put in place which assist and facilitate opportunities for athletes to achieve successful performances.  Over the past four years 25 medals were achieved by high performance supported athletes at major championships.

Key areas of the performance support system that Ankrom led included:

  • An increase of more than 200% in athletes brought onto the HP programme which now facilitates over 150+ athletes
  • Increasing the levels of support services to athletes throughout Ireland
  • A fundamental change in the way athletes are funded with Athletics Ireland one of the first NGBs charged by Sport Ireland with managing its own High Performance Carding system.
  • World-class logistic and operational support in place for major championships

The HP programme now also includes a robust system of athlete and team selection procedures for major championships including dedicated selection policies, selection and appeals panels with specific terms of reference and an appeals policy for each championship event.  The Programme has identified distance and sprint disciplines as key opportunities for success while the development of relay teams has also been enhanced in recent years.

Commenting on Ankrom’s decision to return to his native country, John Foley said “Kevin was recruited to do a very specific job – to establish a recognised system of high performance for the long term benefit of Irish athletics”.  “I am very satisfied that he has set us on the right course through the systems he has initiated here in Ireland”, added Foley. “He has worked very closely with Sport Ireland and the Institute of Sport to provide athletes and coaches with a centralised support system to work in tandem with their own teams in getting the best from elite athletes” Foley said.

Kevin Ankrom  “I enjoyed my time in Ireland and particularly working with some really talented young athletes and coaches”, he added.  “Fundamental to my role was bringing new systems into an established landscape and that is always challenging but I am very happy that, together with our partners in sport, we have significantly moved forward in many areas and have set a good platform for more success in the next two Olympic cycles”, Ankrom said.  “There has been really good progress made through each championship culminating in an Olympic Games where the Irish athletics team produced one of its best ever overall performances”, he added. “I believe that a good system is in place and ready to evolve over the next four to eight years and beyond”, Ankrom said while paying tribute to all those involved in the sport – “I want to thank Athletics Ireland for this opportunity and the great athletes and coaches who work so hard for success as they represent their club, county and ultimately, country and I look forward to seeing their continued success”.

The President of Athletics Ireland, Georgina Drumm said of Ankrom. “Kevin has brought his knowledge and experience from other countries and has moulded a system of central supports which are designed to work in tandem with athletes and coaches’ own systems and individual needs”, she said.  “While his work is already showing dividends in terms of the future potential of athletes, we will see the real benefits of his efforts over the coming 4-8 years”, the President added.

The Chairperson of AAI’s High Performance Committee Brid Golden said “Kevin has contributed enormously to the development of the High Performance Programme and leaves a very solid legacy. I am delighted with the investment in the support for our younger athletes which I am sure will result in better and more consistent performances at international level in years to come. I wish Kevin and his family well in their return to the U.S.”

The Association will assess its coaching structures for the next two Olympic cycles 2017-2024 over the coming period and will consult with Sport Ireland during this process.  Ankrom will remain available to Athletics Ireland to provide short term transition support to the Association during the initial months of 2017.

Mr Foley added “Kevin has laid good foundations and set the long term structures and his decision to return to the USA comes at the end of an Olympic cycle. There is now a need to take the task on to the next stage - to manage and drive forward the coaching needs of the next 4-8 years – that’s the key area for development for the next two Olympic cycles.  

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