The BAC has joined forces with British Rowing to collaborate on a ground-breaking athlete-led consultation into the National Governing Body’s selection policies, ensuring that the voice of Great Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic rowers is listened to and acted upon.
British Rowing approached the BAC, as an independent body representing athletes across the high-performance system, to lead on the project after recognising that its policies could be strengthened by input from athletes.
The BAC’s Athlete Engagement Manager, Kristian Thomas, has led on the consultation, speaking to 48 athletes, and gaining online feedback from 36.
Following this work, Kristian has now presented British Rowing with his report, which the organisation will use to help form its selection policies and processes for Great Britain representative squads and including the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Kristian Thomas said:
“We were delighted to be asked to undertake this work by British Rowing. The request shows real commitment on their behalf to ensuring that the views of their athletes are heard, and the desire to work alongside the BAC demonstrates the importance they placed on making sure that their athletes were able to hold open and honest conversations about the selection policy.
“Athletes were very keen to engage with the process and share their thoughts on the many positive aspects of the current selection policy, and what could be improved going forward.
“The project has given athletes genuine input into a policy that affects them, as well as allowing a National Governing Body to gain honest and constructive feedback. It’s a model that we believe can be replicated across multiple sports, and we are grateful to British Rowing for recognising its value.”
British Rowing Chief Executive, Andy Parkinson, added:
“The BAC is playing an increasingly significant role in representing the athlete voice across Olympic and Paralympic sports and it has been fantastic to work with them on this athlete consultation.
“I, our Director of Performance Brendan Purcell and our performance leadership team place huge value on the experiences and views of our athletes. The BAC has helped us capture their feedback in a meaningful way and informed the development of a selection approach for all GB teams for the future.”
During the consultation, the BAC was supported by ex-athlete Jenna Woolven, who added her considerable knowledge and experience of elite sport and consultation. The consultation team spoke with current and recently retired rowers, and worked to ensure that the sport’s athlete representative group was involved in discussions around interviewees’ recommendations and suggestions.
Watch the BAC’s Kristian Thomas in conversation with British Rowing athlete Erin Kennedy about the initiative: