- The former Paralympics head coach stepped away from organisation in 2022
- Maguire’s sacking came two months after a successful World Championships
- British sprint star Dina Asher-Smith hit out at organisation’s surprise decision
Paula Dunn will lead Britain’s track and field stars into next year’s Paris Olympics following the shock sacking of technical director Stephen Maguire.
Maguire was abruptly axed by UK Athletics on Tuesday, just two months after guiding the team to a record-equalling 10 medals at the World Championships, following a row with chief executive Jack Buckner over budgets for Paris 2024.
He has now been replaced by Dunn, who returns to the cash-strapped governing body in the role as interim head coach at a critical time.
The 58-year-old worked as UKA’s Paralympic head coach for 10 years from 2012, then as team leader at last year’s major events, before leaving the organisation in September 2022.
Dunn will now head up the performance programme for next summer’s Olympics and Paralympics, admitting ‘there isn’t a moment to lose’, with the Games just nine months away.
Former UK Athletics Paralympics head coach Paula Dunn will take up the interim head coach at the track and field governing body
UK Athletics technical director Stephen Maguire was sacked nine months before the Olympics
‘I’m looking forward to working with the performance staff and athletes once more at this incredibly important time for the team,’ she said.
‘I want to ensure we keep providing world-class support in the approach to Paris and help every athlete perform at their very best. There isn’t a moment to lose and I am excited to rejoin UKA and help the team to succeed.’
UKA chief Buckner has come under fire from athletes for letting Maguire go, with sprint star Dina Asher-Smith demanding an explanation for the ‘incredibly short-sighted decision’.
Dina Asher-Smith was among those who criticised the ‘incredibly short-sighted decision’
Things are thought to have come to a head over UKA’s dire financial situation ahead of next year’s Paris Olympics
Mail Sport understands things came to a head over UKA’s dire financial situation, with the pot for the remainder of this Olympic cycle effectively empty.
The governing body is also braced for another challenging week next week when they announce which athletes they are funding up to Paris 2024, with many of those who have missed out ready to lodge appeals.
On Dunn’s appointment, Buckner added: ‘Paula has a huge amount of experience in leading athletics and her track record in performance means she is the best person to oversee the performance programme towards Paris.
‘She is coming in at a critical time for the performance team, but her knowledge and experience will make a huge impact.’