Peter Keen, one of the country's leading experts in high performance sport, is to join UK Sport on a full time basis as part of its drive to move Team GB up the Olympic medal table in Beijing 2008 and, crucially, London 2012.
The former British Cycling Performance Director had previously worked for UK Sport in an advisory capacity, joining in April 2004 to lead the development of the new 'No Compromise' funding strategy rolled out following the Olympic Games in Athens last year. He worked on the project alongside his existing commitments to GlaxoSmithKline, where he was the founding Performance Director of its Lucozade Sport Science Academy and British Cycling, where he remained as a consultant to the World Class Performance Programme - roles which will now cease.
Keen's move comes at a watershed moment for high-performance sport in the UK, with the London 2012 Games providing a hitherto unknown focus for sport across the nation. He said:
"British sport is facing an incredible seven year journey and, put simply, I want to be where the action is and where I feel I can make a real difference.
"My past experience has provided me with a unique insight into how the high-performance system works, having effectively worked on both sides of the fence. As a former performance director I know what you strive to deliver for your athletes and with my recent experience at UK Sport I understand the challenge of trying to allocate resources openly and effectively to support the delivery of medals at the world's biggest sporting events.
Peter Keen built UK Sport's 'No Compromise' funding approach with an eye on the future and the model used is able to be adapted to consider the implications of a successful London bid. On this basis, Keen is already beginning to look at what is required to deliver high level performance in 2012, especially in some of the Olympic sports that have not traditionally held centre stage in the UK.
He continued: "For some sports, the London 2012 Games represent an immense challenge and seven years is only just sufficient time to build a truly competitive performance base, when you consider the number of nations out there who are already competitive and just keep getting stronger. At the same time, we can't take our eye off the sports we are already working with and supporting their medal ambitions for the 2008 Games in Beijing."
The 41 year-old was formerly coach to Olympic champion Chris Boardman, and was instrumental in creating the Lottery funded World Class Performance Programme for British Cycling which saw the GB team move from 13th to fourth in the world rankings between 1998 and 2002.
UK Sport's Performance Director, Liz Nicholl sees Keen's full-time role as a significant step forward - alongside that of Mike Whittingham, who leads UK Sport's Technical Team - as the organisation builds on the successes of the Athens and Sydney Games:
"Being at the cutting edge is vital in today's elite sport environment, where the smallest of margins determine victory. So we are building a world class team to help make that difference. Peter's expertise has greatly enhanced our capacity to support performance staff in Governing Bodies, Institutes, BOA and BPA to deliver a world class support service to athletes, improving their chances of winning medals in Beijing and London in 2012."
Alongside planning for the 2012 Games, Peter Keen is also working to deliver improvements to the Athlete Personal Award element of the Lottery funded World Class Performance Programme. He is currently consulting with athletes about the new award levels, which are likely to be announced in October.