Christian Malcolm gets vote of confidence from British athletics’ golden girls

Christian Malcolm has won the support of Britain’s golden girls after bagging the top coaching job in athletics.

World champions Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thompson were amongst the first to welcome the appointment of British athletics’ first black head coach.

“New era,” tweeted Asher-Smith, before Johnson-Thompson went further to explain why the 41-year-old former sprinter’s appointment is so important.

Speaking in Brussels, where she competes in two events at today’s Diamond League meet, the Liverpudlian pointed to Malcolm having only hung up his spikes six years ago.

“Christian is not too disconnected from being an athlete,” she said. “So he’s going to have the athletes in mind when he makes decisions and that’s definitely what’s needed.

“He’s such a nice fella and I think he’s going to do a good job.”

British sprint great Darren Campbell had backed his old team mate from the start of the process.

Not, he insisted, because Malcolm is black, but “because he’s been successful (as a coach) and the timing is right for him to have the opportunity”.

Last night Campbell predicted he will do an "amazing" job.

For his own part Malcolm spoke of a “new start” for British athletics, and of a “new energy and drive” within the governing body after a troubled time under previous management

“Words can’t describe how excited I am to have the opportunity to take this role on," added the former world and European sprint medalist. “As an athlete I knew I wanted to give back to the sport when I finished competing.”

Time will tell whether Malcolm, born in Newport of Jamaican descent, has sufficient experience for such a high-profile role at such a challenging time for British athletics.

But the early vibe suggests he has almost universal goodwill from the athletes themselves, which is a significant start.

As Campbell put it: "He’s been in the team, he’s coached the team, he knows everyone. Straight away that takes away the worry athletes might have about a new head coach coming in.”

British 800m star Jamie Webb testified to Malcolm’s man-management qualities by recalling his first athlete-coach encounter with him at a European Championships.

“Amsterdam 2016 I bombed out the heats,” Webb tweeted. “@ChristianM200 took time to sit & talk with me about how it wasn't the end of the world whilst I cried into 20 nugs and a milkshake.

“Sometimes it's about understanding not just the success stories are the future of our sport. Welcome home.”

Malcolm’s appointment comes two months after UKA chief executive Joanna Coates pledged to address the lack of black coaches at the top of the sport.

“Christian’s credentials are numerous,” she said. “Most impressive was the energy and vision he had for the Head Coach role during the recruitment process.”

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