Mark Munro will be ‘clearing his desk’ over the next few days in readiness for a departure from scottishathletics after 10 years with the governing body.
Our chief executive is headed south – virtually – for a new role with UK Athletics as their Development Director with a clear target to try and connect up grassroots activity across athletics in Britain.
Mark was initially employed as our Head of Development in early 2011 and then stepped up to the CEO role after the departure of Nigel Holl. An initial spell as interim CEO was converted to a permanent appointment in October of that year.
His love of the sport in Scotland stretches back far further than that, of course, and Mark won Scotland vests at age group level as a hill runner.
We felt it both appropriate and fitting to take a look back and a look forward and our video interview covers a number of topics including some personal memories, athlete/coach successes and the response to Covid-19.
‘It is mixed emotions for me at the moment,’ said Mark.
‘Firstly I must thank the Board of scottishathletics and our Chair, Ian Beattie, for the opportunities they have given me and the support they have given me over the last ten years.
‘They gave me the chance as Head of Development initially and then later as CEO and they supported me and mentored me. It might sound corny, but I wouldn’t be here without that.
‘Secondly, I’m excited about my forthcoming role with UK Athletics. I think there’s a need for a more strategic approach across the sport in Britain and via the four Home Countries. I think there is an opportunity to connect up more what’s happening at grassroots level via the clubs, coach development, Officials and so on.
‘However, I’m very passionate about athletics in Scotland and scottishathletics as a governing body.
‘It has been a huge part of my life and I’ve certainly lived and breathed scottishathletics over the past ten years.’
Laura Muir and coach Andy Young savour her double gold success at Glasgow 2019 (photo by Sue Gyford)
‘If you are asking me for emotional highlights then those are usually when you watch an athlete performance.
‘Going back a couple of years, then the memories are still very fresh of Laura Muir’s double gold at the European Indoors at Glasgow 2019 in front of packed crowds at the Emirates Arena. She was so far clear of the field and it was two great nights inside her home arena.
‘Jake Wightman is someone I have a wee joke with because I’m fortunate enough to have been there in person when he won championship medals at Gold Coast in the Commonwealths and Berlin for the Europeans.
‘I tell Jake I am his lucky charm and he needs to take me to all the big champs in the future.
‘Then, going back a bit further, when I think of Glasgow 2014 there was that night when Libby Clegg won gold on the track at Hampden.
‘It was our only gold in athletics and it was a great performance. It was good at Glasgow to see Para events being integrated into the programme of the Commonwealths – setting a tone.
‘On that note, and as things have moved on, we had Kayleigh Haggo setting a World Record at Meadowmill last summer and Kayleigh and Gavin Drysdale setting Records at the 2019 World Para Champs.
‘All of these are outstanding performances and that’s where the good memories are.’
Mark (second from right) with Board members, sponsors and athletes on the night scottishathletics were named Governing Body of the Year for the third time in four years in 2019 (photo courtesy of Team Scotland).
‘I believe there has been a mindset change.
‘There’s been a lot of success in track and field and cross country but also in mountain running, ultra running and Para athletics in European and global events.
‘I’ve said it before but back in 2012 there were five Scots on the GB and NI team for the Olympics and as it happened none of those athletes made a final.
‘By 2019 and the World Champs and the World Para Champs and we’d athletes finishing high in finals or winning medals (Para).
‘I credit the coaches and the athletes themselves for that. When I was a young athlete, it seemed like making the Commonwealths with Team Scotland was very much the goal for everyone.
‘I think now the aims are higher – athletes, even from a young age, are talking about trying to reach finals rather than just trying to make GB and NI teams. And that’s great for the sport in Scotland.’