Warner plans Tanni 'seduction'

Last updated at 20:50 01 March 2007

UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner is determined to keep Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson as part of the organisation following her retirement from competition - and he admitted "the seduction process" has already begun.

Grey-Thompson will race in a Great Britain vest for the final time at the Visa

Paralympic World Cup this May before turning her attention to coaching and other

interests outside of the sport.

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The 37-year-old will leave a huge gap on the track after winning 11 gold

medals in five Paralympic Games and six London Marathons.

But Warner believes Grey-Thompson, a politics graduate and one of British

sport's most inspirational figures, has a vital role to play in the future of

athletics in this country.

He told PA Sport: "The challenge for us will be to find a way to persuade her

she can contribute to UK Athletics' efforts in disability athletics.

"Her legacy could be greater than all those gold medals if she can bring her

experiences to bear and open up medal opportunities to a whole new generation of

Paralympic athletes.

"We cannot afford for Tanni Grey-Thompson being a one-off.

"If there is any way we can harness her experiences to broader use I'd love

to find it.

"We should see her retirement as a milestone but not the finishing line.

"She has a role greater than coaching. She is an incredibly articulate,

intelligent, driven athlete. Coaching is invaluable to our sport but I have a

hunch which says she can do more than coach.

"That is what I would like to explore and I have begun the seduction


Grey-Thompson insisted in the past she would not get involved with sports

politics but as the figurehead of disability sport in Britain it has been

impossible to avoid.

She is proud of her success in breaking down barriers and changing much of the

stigma attached to disabled sport.

"It has made a difference," she said.

"We are not going to change some of the older generations who believe

disability is negative. It is about changing young people's view of disability

and social inclusion.

"That has been one of the successes. Young people don't fear disability in

the same way as people did when I grew up.

"The Paralympics has two very clear messages. The first and most important is

about winning but secondly it is about showing what you can achieve with a


"I fundamentally believe the guys coming behind me shouldn't have to fight

for the things that I fought for.

"I have sat on lottery panels, the Sports Council of Wales and UK Sport. I

wouldn't rule out getting involved in sports politics in some sort of way."

That kind of thinking is exactly what Warner is anxious to profit from.

"Her spirit is something I would like to imbue the organisation with to keep

us on our toes with regard to disability athletics," he said.

"It is very important we continue to remind ourselves what our obligations

are and how important Paralympics is alongside able-bodied athletics."

And Grey-Thompson could not steer clear of politics even as she retired from

competition and urged the nation to ignore the scare-stories over the cost of

the 2012 Olympics and back the project.

"I don't think we can underestimate the power of 2012 and how it will inspire

more people than we ever imagine to get involved in sport," she said.

"Beijing will be really tough and London 2012 presents a big challenge but a

really exciting one and I think we have an amazing opportunity in the next few

years to make a big difference to sport in this country and especially

disability sport.

"I believe wholeheartedly in 2012 and I believe it is a price worth paying.

"We should all remember that feeling when we won (the right to host the

Olympics) and that outpouring of emotion.

"That is what it will be like when the Olympics happen."

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