UK Athletics head of comms Claire Furlong moves to part-time role

UK Athletics is restructuring its comms function six weeks before the start of the London Olympics.

Claire Furlong: starts new agency 16ten
Claire Furlong: starts new agency 16ten

Claire Furlong, the UKA head of comms, has moved from a full-time to a 100 day per year contract with UKA while still retaining her role as chief press aide to the GB athletics team.

Furlong’s new agency 16ten is named after the number of votes by which the UK won its bid for the 2017 athletics championships.

Her team of 21 staff, which are divided between comms, marketing and commercial functions, will now be managed by new commercial director Sophia Warner, a marketing professional and former IPC World Championships silver medallist, who starts in October.

The move follows the company’s relocation from Blythe Valley Business Park to a space in Alexander Stadium in November.

Furlong said: ‘The move increased my commute from one hour to two-and-a-half hours. It is a massive year for UKA with the Games, and I was concerned I wouldn't cope with the commute. But when I spoke to the chairman and chief executive they said: "You’ve always wanted to start up on your own so why don’t we become your first client?'"

She added that the team had decided 1 June was the right time for her to leave 'because it allowed me to focus on the Games'.

The internal comms team has also been restructured following a decision not to renew the team’s contract with sports marketing agency Fast Track in March this year.

Comms manager Liz Birchall will take on more of the day-to-day press liaison, while a TV events team of three has been created to handle press for the six Aviva Series athletics programmes.

16ten will offer consulting services, media training and crisis management. UKA is Furlong's first client for press on the European team championships next year.

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