British Swimming Chairman Maurice Watkins CBE Dies Aged 79

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Maurice Watkins: Photo Courtesy: British Swimming

British Swimming chairman Maurice Watkins CBE has died aged 79.

Watkins was appointed to his role in December 2012 and oversaw the development of an era of aquatics sport in Britain during which the swimming, para-swimming and diving teams have progressed greatly on the international stage.

At the Tokyo Olympics just gone, the swimming team enjoyed the most successful Games in their history with four golds among an eight-strong medal haul.

In 2013 Chris Spice was appointed national performance director and Bill Furniss as head coach with the team going on to achieve their best ever return from a World Championships two years later in Kazan.

A year on, at Rio 2016, Team GB claimed their first Olympic diving title, thanks to Jack Laugher and Chris Mears in the men’s 3m synchro, with the diving team’s tally of three medals in one Games a new record.

The swimmers recorded their then-best medal return – six – in more than a century, while the Paralympics saw Britain’s swimmers claim 47 of the 147 medals won across all sports by Paralympics GB, including 16 golds.

Away from the performance and culture development, Watkins worked as chairman of the LEN legal committee.

Watkins appointed Jack Buckner as CEO in 2017 and he paid tribute, saying: ”

“I have been fortunate to experience Maurice’s personal dignity and humility. He has been a leader of deep wisdom and patient intelligence, the wise steward at the heart of the sport.

“Even in his last days, his total focus was on Tokyo and the great events which unfolded there. Maurice, a piece of these medals belong to you.

“Thanks for your massive contribution to British Swimming and everything you have done for British sport.”

Sally Munday, CEO of UK Sport, said:

“I was so saddened to hear about Maurice. My thoughts are with his family and friends.

“Maurice was so well known in the sporting community and the sheer variety of sports that he was involved in throughout his life goes some way to showing the impact he had on the British sporting landscape.

“As Chair of British Swimming, he must have been immensely proud of the success that Britain’s aquatics athletes had in Tokyo in the recent weeks. He will be sorely missed.”

Before his time with British Swimming, Maurice was a director at Manchester United for 28 years, famously brokering the deal to keep Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford after he had decided to quit.

He was head of sport law for Brabners Solicitors in Manchester, as well as taking in roles as interim chairman of the Rugby Football League in 2012, Barnsley FC chairman for four years and as a director of Lancashire County Cricket Club.

Watkins was made a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list of 2011 for his services to charity.

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