Olympic, World and Commonwealth heptathlon medallist Kelly Sotherton has been confirmed as Team England’s Track & Field Team Leader for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Sotherton, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist in 2006 who competed for Birmingham’s Birchfield Harriers, has been appointed to the position after a competitive interview process. She will now utilise her extensive elite competition experience and multi-event background to assist Team England’s talented athletes on their pathway to, and during, the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Sotherton’s Team Leader role, facilitated in partnership with Sport England, Team England and British Athletics, will see her contracted to England Athletics until August 2022. As Team Leader, Sotherton is tasked with delivering a world class team to Birmingham 2022 and will seek to achieve a high medal count whilst providing opportunities for developing athletes to gain a quality experience in what may be their first major championships.
Sotherton’s role will contribute to England Athletics’ commitment in ensuring that team preparation is of the highest standard and that athletes, whether on World Class Programmes or not, are well supported and have the ideal environment and opportunity to produce their best performances at the Games. Sotherton is tasked with pulling together the team staff and leading the preparations through the England Athletics International competition programme. In addition, in the build-up to Birmingham 2022, Sotherton will be working with team staff and England Event Leads to develop opportunities and support for potential Games athletes and their coaches.
The track and field team makes up the largest single sport team within Team England. The team’s last appearance in athletics at a Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast 2018, saw them finish third in the athletics medal table, behind Australia and Jamaica, with a total of 17 medals - five gold, five silver and seven bronze.
Speaking about her appointment, Kelly Sotherton said: “I am excited to start my new role as Team England’s Track and Field Team Leader. The Commonwealth Games is an important competition on the international stage and the fact that it will be held in my hometown of Birmingham in 2022 makes it extra special. The Commonwealth Games impacts on athletes at different stages of their career and I am honoured to be able to play a part in preparing the team to achieve success at the event. We want to make sure that the whole athletics community, and wider public, are engaged with our track and field team and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.”
Chris Jones, CEO of England Athletics, said: “I am delighted that Kelly has agreed to take on this important leadership role as we prepare for another home Commonwealth Games in 2022. As a former Birchfield Harrier, Kelly has a strong affinity with Birmingham and will offer a good blend of experience and knowledge having competed, and won medals, in major international competitions during her career and of course having won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne back in 2006.
“She knows what preparation is required to succeed at the highest level and having worked as a coach and team manager at both club and international level during the last few years, I am looking forward to working with Kelly as she assembles our leadership and management team for Birmingham.”
Martin Rush, Head of Coaching & Athlete Development at England Athletics, said: “This is an exciting appointment for England Athletics. Kelly brings a keen knowledge of what is required to perform and produce at the highest level but also has a clear picture of the medals and development philosophy England Athletics wants to bring to the track and field team for Birmingham 2022.
“This is an appointment that looks to the future and ensures the Team England track and field team in 2022 will be led by a Birmingham local at the home of athletics and a new Alexander Stadium. I look forward to working with Kelly in the lead up to the Games and ensuring we connect with track and field and running clubs across the country.”
Phil Smith, Director of Sport at Sport England, added: “We’re delighted to be supporting England Athletics in their appointment of Kelly to the role of Track and Field Team Leader for Birmingham 2022, as part of our role to support and contribute to England’s success at the Commonwealth Games. With preparations well underway for a home Commonwealth Games, Kelly is a good addition to the home team and we are looking forward to working with her.”
Paul Blanchard, Chief Executive at Commonwealth Games England, added: “It’s fantastic to see someone of Kelly’s calibre and experience take on such a key role for Team England’s track and field athletes for Birmingham 2022. Having competed and medalled at the top level, Kelly knows first-hand what is needed to create an environment in the build-up to, and during, a Commonwealth Games for athletes to develop, prepare and achieve. We look forward to working with her on the journey to Birmingham 2022.”