Athletics: BAF looks to experience: Elder appointed British manager

VERONA ELDER, the former Olympic athlete, was yesterday named as Great Britain's new overall athletics team manager for this year.

Elder, 40, who competed for Britain more times than any other athlete, takes over from Joan Allison, who gave up the job after Britain's successes at last year's World Championships in Stuttgart.

Elder has a hard act to follow - in the footsteps of the immensely popular Allison - but she herself is highly regarded by the athletes, having been the women's team manager at the 1992 Olympic Games, and in Stuttgart.

The British Athletic Federation is banking on Elder's competitive and managerial experience to lead the teams' challenge in a hectic international programme, which centres on the European Indoor Championships, European Cup, European Championships and World Cup.

The Romford-based Elder was one of Europe's top 400 metres runners: she won a record 71 British vests in 13 seasons and ran in the 1972 and 1976 Olympics. She won two individual Commonwealth Games silvers and two relay golds, and won gold three times at the European Indoor Championships - the event where she will make her managerial debut in Paris in March.

There had been some discussion within the track and field commission about the merits of other contenders, including Fatima Whitbread, but Elder's experience told in her favour.

'She's been a team manager at world, Olympic and European championships,' Tony Ward, the BAF spokesman, said. 'That is experience you can't just obtain these days. You do need someone who has been through the mill of these long Games. Everyone felt that the only person eminently qualified for the job was Verona.'

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