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Kate Palmer appointed as Chief Executive of unified Australian athletics bodies

Kate Palmer appointed as Chief Executive of unified Australian athletics bodies
February 10, 2021

The Boards of Little Athletics Australia and Athletics Australia have announced that former Sport Australia Chief Executive, Kate Palmer has accepted the role of Chief Executive of the unified OneAthletics body for the next 12 months.

Palmer, who was appointed to the board of Athletics Australia in November, will replace Athletics Australia Chief Executive, Darren Gocher who left the position earlier this week just months out from the Tokyo Olympics.

In taking on the role, Palmer will drive the merger of the two bodies to become Australian Athletics while also leading athletics up to the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

After years of discussions, the OneAthletics merger process is on track to deliver the vision of Little Athletics Australia and Athletics Australia to form a new national sporting organisation (NSO) under the banner of 'Australian Athletics.’

The purpose of Australian Athletics is to provide a clear and logical pathway for athletes, coaches and officials throughout their life in the sport, and enable the sport to reach its full potential.

In a joint statement, the bodies advised that Gocher and until recently Martin Stillman “the Chief Executives of Athletics Australia and Little Athletics Australia respectively, have been outstanding in their support for the proposed merger, despite the uncertainty it has created regarding their future employment circumstances.”

 The statement went on to advise that “after four years in the role”, Gocher has indicated he will not be an applicant for the future Australian Athletics Chief Executive role while the December resignation of Stillman after almost eight years in the role, “provides the boards an opportunity to consider a new leadership structure that will deliver the merged entity, while continuing to drive the business of both Athletics Australia and Little Athletics Australia. The boards have agreed to appoint a joint Chief Executive for the OneAthletics process, accountable to both Little Athletics Australia and Athletics Australia Boards.”

The joint Chief Executive, with the title of OneAthletics Chief Executive, will focus on the detailed work of building a new NSO prior to the October 2021 merger vote.

The statement added “this is not a presumptive decision; Athletics Australia and Little Athletics Australia recognise that any decision to merge rests solely with our state and territory bodies. The decision, however, will give OneAthletics every chance of success.”

Palmer (pictured) is one of Australia’s most experienced and highly regarded sports executives, having formerly held the positions of Chief Executive of Sport Australia (from 2017 to 2020) and Netball Australia (from 2007 to 2017).

Saying she was looking forward to contributing to the future of athletics in Australia, Palmer advised “the opportunity to work with Athletics Australia and Coles Little Athletics Australia to bring to life Australian Athletics through the ‘OneAthletics’ project is one I look forward to enormously.

“I am excited to be appointed to this role and look forward to working with the athletics community around the nation to transform athletics into the largest participation sport in the country.”

“There is a place for everyone in athletics and the vision for athletics in Australia is clear. To create a pathway that will drive life-long involvement from Little Athletics to juniors, seniors and masters.”

Gocher was the Chief Executive of the Nitro Athletics event before taking on the Athletics Australia role in 2017.

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