Introducing Sparky

Lynsey Brotherton speaks to Stephen Park new head of the RYA's World Class Performance programme
Stephen Park, more commonly known as 'Sparky' in the sailing world was appointed Olympic Manager in December 2001. Promoted from the position of Olympic Development Manager, the 33-year-old Scot fills the position left by John Derbyshire who has moved into overall control of the entire World Class Performance Programme, filling the joint roles of Performance Director and RYA Racing Manager. "I am honoured to be given the opportunity to lead the world’s most successful Olympic sailing team towards the Athens Olympic Games in 2004," Park said. Born in Glasgow, Park studied at the Scottish School of Physical Education before moving onto Newcastle University where he gained a Diploma in Management Studies, and later a Masters degree in Recreational Management from Loughborough University. After finishing his studies he went to work for the RYA Scotland (RYAS) and the Welsh Yachting Association (WYA). His sailing background began with success at the Scottish Schools Sailing Championships in a Mirror dinghy. From there he progressed into the National Youth Squad sailing a 420. In 1992 he went onto trial for a place at the Olympics in the 470 class, and in 1996 in the Tornado. "Having made the decision that I wasn't good enough to win a medal sailing five years ago, the next best thing was to try and make sure I could be involved in the infrastructure ensuring that those who do have the skills, can reach their dreams and ambitions," he explains. Park firmly believes that his experience of Olympic sailing gives him a balanced understanding of the game and the hardships that are involved. "The key thing right now is that I have a really good understanding of the World Class programme lottery funding and the whole infra structure of British sport which has been going through a lot of changes over the