Two-time Olympic medallist Asha Philip has spoken of her commitment to ‘authentic and truthful’ representation of athletes, after being named as the newest member of the British Athletes Commission (BAC) Board.
Sprinter Philip joins Great Britain women’s hockey captain Hollie Pearne-Webb as current athlete representatives on the Board, as the BAC continues to evolve to meet the demands of its approximately 1,200 members, post-Tokyo 2020, Beijing 2022 and the multiple consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On her appointment, Philip said:
“I’ve never really contemplated a position on a Board, but as an athlete who naturally likes to help people and thinks of myself as a big sister figure to my team-mates, this is an ideal position for me, and gives me the opportunity to make meaningful changes to athletes’ lives and careers.
“First and foremost, my role as an athlete on the Board is to be truthful. I want to be me, to be authentic and to not shy away from the truth.”
Philip, who has won 4x100m relay bronze at consecutive Olympic Games, will take her place on an eleven-member Board which oversees the BAC’s work, and ensures that the organisation is providing the best possible level of support and representation to British athletes across 42 different Olympic and Paralympic sports.
BAC Chair, Vicki Aggar, said of Philip’s addition:
“We’re absolutely thrilled to welcome Asha to the Board. The recruitment process was rigorous – we had a huge level of interest from current and retired athletes from across the Olympic and Paralympic system – but we found Asha to be incredibly refreshing, articulate and passionate.
“She, along with Hollie Pearne-Webb, will bring a new perspective and fresh ideas to the work that we do. We’re an organisation led by athletes for athletes, and our aim is to contribute to athletes having a really positive career journey.
“How we do that evolves all the time, and it’s up to us to understand every single one of our members, so that we can support them in the way that they need us to. Asha and Hollie’s perspective and guidance will allow us to do that, so we’re delighted to have them both working alongside us.”
The BAC has seen a huge uplift in its casework numbers in recent years, and has been at the heart of progress within the British high-performance system in relation to the prioritisation of athlete wellbeing.
Philip believes that this slow but steady change in culture is beginning to have a positive impact, but that there is still an enormous amount of work to do in ensuring that athletes are treated and perceived in the correct way.
“It’s never nice to hear negative stories, or negative experiences that people have had,” she said. “But it’s also good when these things come to light, because you then see a wave of new athletes empowered to speak out about their own experiences.
“I’ve always believed that sport is 80% mental and 20% physical. Being an elite athlete can bring you the most beautiful highs, but also the lowest lows, and people don’t see that. They see the glitz and the glamour, but they don’t see you crying on the track, wanting to quit and just run away from your sport at times.
“The key thing that we can’t lose sight of is that athletes are human beings first. I still have bills to pay, I’m still someone’s child and I’ll seek out my mum if I need her, I still cry if I’ve had a bad day. People tend to forget that – we’re human.
“For younger athletes coming through now, it’s vital that they know that people understand that, and that there are avenues for them to go down if and when they need help. I’m looking forward to spreading that message, to that newer generation of athletes especially, so that we can continue to move in the right direction.”
The full, audio interview with Asha Philip and Vicki Aggar – produced by Anything But Footy – is available to download here.