Profile: The cheerleader - Tim Hollingsworth, director of policy and communications, UK Sport

Just one month after the birth of his second child, disturbed nights are a feature of Tim Hollingsworth's life at the moment.

However, it is difficult to see any signs of sleep deprivation in UK Sport's new director of policy and communications. He appears bright, bubbly and energetic.

Indeed, the 37-year-old says he is energised by the prospect of working at the body charged with distributing lottery money to the country's elite athletes.

Sports funding is a touchy subject for a nation long-starved of sporting success. The Conservatives are promising to merge UK Sport with Sport England to form a single sports funding body if elected, and the pressure is on Hollingsworth to persuade stakeholders that its concentration on elite athletes can deliver a haul of medals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

'You can't fault success and you have to criticise failure. As an organisation we have to make sure the UK is as successful as it can be,' he says.

But he admits he is 'more of a cheerleader that a critic' when it comes to watching national teams.

Although he is 'myopic' in his support for Fulham FC, he insists he can be more objective when following sport at national level: 'I hugely admire the endeavour of elite sportspeople.'

That said, he seems wary of portraying himself as a complete sports nut, afraid it lacks credibility due to his bespectacled corporate appearance.

'You're going to think I'm lying - the wreck I am now,' he whimpers.

Indeed, his fragile physique speaks of a body that has never seen the inside of a rugby scrum. But as we continue, it becomes apparent that even if work, parenthood and middle age have ended participation, the Craven Cottage season ticketholder is indeed a keen watcher of a broad range of sports.

When talk turns to cricket, Hollingsworth immediately recalls a one-day international 15 years ago - down to details of laborious centuries from Graham Gooch and Geoff Marsh.

Bank of England's Kate Barker, a member of the Monetary Policy Committee, worked with Hollingsworth at the CBI, where she was chief economic adviser.

She testifies to attending football matches with him and says he will enjoy the focus on sports.

Hollingsworth is very strong-minded, she says, and more suited to concentrating on a single organisation's objectives than consultancy's spread of responsibilities.

'Tim's not naive but he always seems young, enthusiastic and confident,' she adds.

As with his sporting credentials, he is reluctant to expand on his background in the theatre, another obsession that has been replaced by career and family.

Hollingsworth graduated with a Masters degree in drama and came to London to follow his acting dreams. But he says that in retrospect, he realises that he didn't seriously pursue the showbiz career: 'I didn't have the talent, patience or thickness of skin.'

The peak of his acting career came when he starred as Hamlet at the University of Exeter's 700-seat theatre. He proudly boasts that his was the first portrayal of him that the theatre had seen.

He kept his theatre ambition alive during his PR career at CBI, acting or directing two or three performances a year. By the time he had joined Granada as head of corporate comms in 1999, his theatrical forays were on the back-burner.

These days he puts his acting experience to use in an unshakable confidence in his comms skills. He says he loves pitching for business, something he will miss about his four years heading PR operations at hbl media, where clients included Barclays, Nokia and the National Lottery Commission.

'When I started out, I thought my drama degree was about as useful as a criminal record. But it has given me confidence in my ability to express myself on an intellectual and emotional level,' he says.

UK Sport promises to give Hollingsworth the time to indulge in one of his passions at least. Although his sports consumption is 'rationed at the moment' by his wife and new arrival Ollie, he is looking forward to getting stuck in to some professional research: 'Reading the back pages - for professional reasons - will be a big job... and a big joy.'


1992 PR officer, Glass & Glazing Federation

1993 Press officer, Confederation of British Industry (CBI)

1995 Head of media relations, CBI

1999 Head of corporate media relations and internal communications,


2001 Director, hbl media

2005 Director of policy and communications, UK Sport

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