Giving Athletes a voice
20/03/2019 00:00, In Blog /
Sport is a constant changing environment; no two competitions or competitors are ever the same. It is this unpredictability that we love and why sport engages so many.
Commonwealth Bronze Medallist, Bethan Davies, gives her thoughts on becoming part of the athlete panel for Team Wales:
"In terms of the Commonwealth Games, Birmingham 2022 will be very different from Gold Coast 2018; the weather, the travel, our (almost) home advantage. There will also be an entirely new crop of Team Wales’ athletes; even those familiar faces will be different after gaining another 4 years of experience. This is why the same plans won’t work, even if Birmingham was secretly the Gold Coast (we can all dream), the individual needs and opinions of these new athletes would still need to be considered.
Commonwealth Games Wales has recognised the need for and value of a representation of the athlete’s voice, announcing last week that seven athletes from a variety of sports had been chosen for an Athletes Commission in the lead up to Birmingham 2022. The purpose of the Athletes Commission is to represent the athlete’s voice, helping to inform Commonwealth Games Wales’ decisions on a range of things for 2022, from kit to accommodation. Athletics is to be very well represented as both Rhys Jones (T37 100m and 200m) and I (20km Race Walk) have been selected.
- Joining us will be Jaz Joyce (Rugby Sevens), Jazz Carlin (Swimming), Gareth Evans (Weightlifting), Anwen Button (Lawn Bowls) and Lauren Price (Boxing).
The positive impact of engaging with athletes and considering their opinions is not only restricted to the Commonwealth Games or specific competitions. Opening up such a dialogue is of benefit to everyone at any time. When a governing body makes the gesture of including an athlete’s commission or panel, athletes know that the governing body are athlete focused and value athlete opinion. They have recognised that athletes are individuals who in order to perform at their best need to be heard and valued as people. After all, athletes are people not products, and the relentless pursuit of athletic or business performance by sacrificing both physical and mental health never results in the desired goals. Utilisation of the athlete voice keeps the people in focus and allows for prompt feedback from those who changes or new strategies impact the most. It provides a safe space for athletes to raise any concerns, helping to prevent disengagement, which can be a common reaction to unpopular change.
As athletes we are advised to focus on controlling the controllable, an athlete panel makes more of those controllables readily available. For example an athlete might not be able to control the distance to a competition but with an athletes panel they can help influence how they travel there. The benefits of having a representation of the athletes voice are numerous because athletes are full of great ideas; after all, who knows the athletes better than the athletes themselves!"
Welsh Athletics are committed to giving our athletes a voice within Wales, and will be setting up a junior athletes panel in 2019.