By Owen Morgan
Welsh Athletics has launched a search to replace former Olympian Matt Elias who has announced he is leaving his post in charge of developing the nation’s sprinting talent.
A statement by the sport’s governing body said Elias, who won a clutch of medals for Wales and Great Britain at the Commonwealth Games and European Athletics Championships, is leaving his post to “pursue other opportunities within the sport”.
Although Elias will continue to support Wales’ sprints programme for the rest of the summer, Welsh Athletics has immediately launched a recruitment process for a new national talent development coordinator for sprints, hurdles and relays.
The former 400m and 400m hurdles star took over the post in 2019 but has worked for Welsh Athletics for a decade, holding a number of roles including national performance centre coach.
Commenting on his decision to leave the organisation, Elias said: “It has been a pleasure working with Welsh Athletics for the last decade.
“This time has allowed me to grow as a personal coach, while helping develop sprinting across Wales.
“Seeing coaches and athletes develop during that time has been something I am very proud of.
“The timing is right for me to pursue new opportunities and my goals within professional coaching ”
While Welsh Athletics recruits his replacement, Elias has agreed to continue to support key speed initiatives, including the relay programme.
The former Welsh 400m flat and 400m hurdle champion added: “I am looking forward to continuing the support of Welsh Athletics’ relay programmes in their pursuit of qualifying for the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
“Helping the development of sprinting across Wales is something I am very passionate about and will continue to be for many years to come.”
The Cardiff athlete was part of the 4x400m quartets which memorably won bronze and silver medals for Wales at the Kuala Lumpur and Manchester Commonwealth Games in 1998 and 2002.
Known for his colourful hairstyles during his running career, Elias also won individual silver in the 400m hurdles at the Manchester Games, as well as relay gold at the 2002 European Athletics Championships.
In 2004, he and fellow Welsh star Tim Benjamin narrowly missed out on an Olympic 4x400m bronze in Athens as part of the Great Britain relay team.
Since hanging up his spikes Elias has established himself as a respected coach with clutch of Welsh and Great Britain internationals in his personal training group.
Welsh athletics CEO James Williams said of Elias’ departure: ‘It’s always sad when a member of the Welsh Athletics family moves on, but especially so given the length of Matt’s tenure with the organisation.
“I am delighted that Matt has agreed to continue to support the sprints programme for the duration of the summer while we recruit a replacement.
“I sincerely hope that Matt continues to play a key role in developing sprinting across Wales through his personal coaching.”
Whoever takes over from Elias will look to develop and add to the battery of rising sprint talent they will inherit.
Only this week Cardiff short sprint star Jeremiah Azu and Swansea Harriers’ fast improving 400m prospect Joe Brier were named in the Great Britain squad for next month’s European Under-23 Championships in Estonia.
Meanwhile, teenage sensation Nel Desir is considered to be one of the sport’s biggest rising talents and fellow Cardiff Archer Caitlyn Mapps was recently added to the British Athletics Futures Relay Programme.
Ten Welsh men have run under 10.8 for 100m already this season – led by Sam Gordon who clocked a new personal best of 10.25 earlier this month.
While established Commonwealth Games competitors like Hannah Brier and Mica Moore have been showing good form along with other female Welsh sprinters like Melissa Roberts.
Further details regarding the vacant post can be found at http://orlo.uk/QZwRc