UK Sport’s chief executive officer Liz Nicholl is to step down from her role next summer, ending a 20-year association with the government agency.
Nicholl has helped transform the UK high performance system during her tenure and has played an integral role in the growing success of Team GB and ParalympicsGB across 10 Olympic and Paralympic Games, including London 2012.
Nicholl first joined UK Sport in 1999, two years after the organisation was established by Royal Charter in the aftermath of the Atlanta 1996 Games when Britain secured one solitary gold medal.
For a decade, she held the role of director of elite sport, before becoming chief operating officer in 2009. She then took on the position of CEO at UK Sport in September 2010.
In almost two decades, she has overseen 863 Great British medals at the summer and winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. This includes a record haul of 67 medals, 27 golds, at the Rio 2016 Games.
“I have shared a very special journey with everyone that has been part of our very successful high performance system over the past 20 years,” she said.
“This really is the best job in sport and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I am confident that it will attract some great applicants and my successor will find British sport in a good position to realise our vision of inspiring the nation in Tokyo and beyond,” Nicholl added.
Under Nicholl’s stewardship, UK Sport also played a crucial role in placing the UK on the global stage for the hosting of major sporting events, bringing the IAAF World Championships to London in 2017, as well as two Tour de France Grand departs’ and stages.
In 2015, Nicholl was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for her services to sport and will now focus on family and other interests from next summer onwards.
“It’s been a huge privilege to work with so many committed and talented athletes, coaches, leaders, partners and colleagues during my time at UK Sport,” she commented.
“Tokyo 2020 performance is on track and preparation for the Games environment in Japan is being expertly led and supported by the BOA and BPA. Our athletes are undoubtedly among the very best prepared and supported in the world and I am confident that we can continue to build on the successes of recent Games.”
Reacting to the news, chair of UK Sport, Dame Katherine Grainger said: “We must never forget the transformation that has occurred under her guidance nor take for granted how many people, myself included, who have been able to realise their potential because of her tireless work.
“She is an incredible leader, principled and consistent whilst also being able to seek compromise and collaboration. The spirit of resilience and good humour has seen Liz through countless challenges and her infectious enthusiasm has only increased over the past 20 years.”
Echoing Grainger’s sentiments, BOA chairman, Sir Hugh Robertson, added: “The word outstanding is over used but it, genuinely, applies to Liz. She has been central to this country’s series of record- breaking performances at successive Olympic and Paralympic Games and designing and delivering a world class high performance system.”
UK Sport confirmed that the search for Nicholl’s successor will begin imminently, helping make for a smooth transition and handover with the Tokyo 2020 Games getting underway in just over 20 months.