As part of his role as Athlete Engagement Manager at the BAC, former gymnast and Olympic medalist Kristian Thomas works alongside Athlete Representatives across sports, in order to ensure that the athlete voice is being heard. Here, he explains the importance of athlete voice mechanisms.
“Athlete voice, and amplifying that voice as much as possible, was always important to me during my own career, and now I see its importance more clearly than ever.
“From the moment I entered international sport, right up until now, in my role as Athlete Engagement Manager for the BAC, I have been fortunate enough to learn from other athletes. In professional and personal capacities, your peers can pass on advice, wisdom and experience that can be of huge benefit to you, and you hope to do the same in return, even if indirectly.
“Athletes – regardless of their sport – share a common bond. They devote themselves to their sport from an early age, and put in the hard yards away from the crowds and the cameras to earn their opportunities on the biggest stage.
“In striving for these opportunities, athletes will face similar challenges, similar frustrations, and experience the same high-pressure environment.
“While there are truly fantastic people working in sport administration, and within the support staff across all of our NGBs, without that first-hand experience of what an athlete sees, endures, and experiences, it can be difficult to relate to this in the automatic, empathetic way in which another athlete can.
“This is where athlete voice and athlete representation are so crucial.
“In order for our system to be the strongest it can possibly be, we need athletes to shape and to influence it. When the athlete’s voice is represented, decisions are more rounded, environments more cohesive, and procedures and policies better understood. All of which only bodes well for all those within our system, whatever their role.
“I know from personal experience that there is an ever-increasing desire among athletes to have a say within their sport and the wider system, not just for themselves or their current team-mates, but perhaps more importantly, for those athletes who will come later on.
“We all have a chance to play our part in ensuring that sport develops in the right way, and that athletes’ needs are listened to and respected. At the BAC, we are delighted to be able to facilitate such growth.
“I’d urge all athletes with an interest in athlete representation to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.”