England Athletics appoint Head of Talent Development

England Athletics is delighted to announce the appointment of Sarah Benson as its new Head of Talent Development following an openly advertised recruitment process.

Sarah will succeed Martin Rush in this important role who will stand down on 1 September having overseen the organisation’s work in the areas of athlete development, competition, and coaching since 2015. England Athletics will make plans to ensure a smooth transition of duties between now and then.

Sarah, a former 3,000 metre international steeplechase runner, coach, and International Team Manager, is currently the Paralympic Pathways Programme Manager at UK Athletics (UKA) - having joined them in 2017 - and has previously held similar roles with British Gymnastics and in Scotland where she has worked for Sport Scotland and the Scottish Institute of Sport.

England Athletics CEO Chris Jones said:

“I am absolutely delighted that Sarah has agreed to join us at this exciting and important time as we look to a period beyond what we hope will be a wonderful summer of athletics in 2022, with the Commonwealth Games being held in Birmingham, and as we plan towards the next Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Australia in 2026.

“This is a vitally important role in the England Athletics operational structure with accountability for all our investment, delivery, and partnership working across the area of athlete development, overseeing the execution of our established and unified talent strategy in England, together with directing our ongoing work in providing opportunities for athletes to compete and for coaches to develop in what is an inextricably connected work area.

“We need to provide high-quality competitive opportunities for our most talented and aspiring club athletes to be able to perform to the best of their abilities and we also need to ensure that we align these efforts to a programme of coordinated coach development activities. Central to this effort will be the desire to retain and transition more talented young athletes into senior performance programmes and Sarah’s oversight and leadership of our Event Group Lead team, International Team Programme and National Competition schedule in England will be central to this focus. We wish her the very best of success when she begins on September 1.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Martin Rush for all his efforts since he took up this equivalent position in 2015. Martin has been central to formalising the existing talent strategy for the sport in England and UK-wide and in securing the resources to ensure we can deliver this plan through to 2026.”

Sarah Benson said:

“I am delighted to be joining England Athletics as the Head of Talent Development and look forward to continuing the great work Martin Rush and his team have embedded through the pathway over the years.

“Since starting the sport at the age of 10 and having worked within elite sport talent development programmes over the last 14 years, I am very excited about helping provide strategic direction for talent for athletics in England. I am passionate about the effective and ethical development of talented athletes and, alongside the highly experienced staff at England Athletics, I am excited about the opportunity to continue growing the programmes and projects supporting young developing athletes and their coaches on the talent pathway. I am very grateful to British Athletics for the opportunity over the past five years to lead and develop the Paralympic Pathway and work with some exceptional athletes in championship environments. It has been such a huge honour to support the journeys of Paralympians transitioning through the pathway.”