Friday 9 July 2004
Public Orator, Professor
Fred Yeadon presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony
held on Friday 9 July 2004 at 3.00pm.
Vice-Chancellor, Honoured Guests and Graduands:
Today we honour John
Atkinson who has devoted more than 40 years to advancing British
Gymnastics and more than 20 years to fostering gymnastics research
in collaboration with Loughborough University.
John graduated from
Cardiff College of Physical Education in 1959 and started teaching
at Woodlands School in Coventry where he developed vaulting, tumbling
and trampolining. In the early 1960’s he established the
Ullathorne Gymnastics Club which produced a national schools champion
and an overall British Champion.
He visited Russia in
1967 where he discovered a huge infrastucture in which coaching
was a profession populated by university graduates. Shortly thereafter
John established a national development plan for the informed
preparation of gymnasts.
In 1973 he became National
Coach and enticed leading gymnastics coaches from Eastern Europe
to move to Britain. In 1978 he assembled a team of experts in
medicine, physiology, psychology and biomechanics to underpin
sports science support for gymnastics. The result was to change
British gymnasts from participants to medallists in international
While Captain Picard
of the Starship Enterprise only has to say “Make it so”
to get something done, this is not the case when trying to change
the operation of a national organisation. John Atkinson has had
the tenacity and leadership to “Make it so”.
Along the way John
has been the
Technical Director and Performance Director at British Gymnastics,
National Coach at 3 Olympic Games and 12 World Championships,
Competition Director at numerous international championships,
Organiser of coaching courses for the International Gymnastics
Chairman of the British Institute of Sports Coaches,
and in 1989 received the MBE for services to sport and coaching.
John has been committed
to advancing gymnastics performance through coach education and
through fostering research into gymnastics. Loughborough University
has collaborated with British Gymnastics in providing support
and research in sports biomechanics for more than 20 years. This
has culminated in the recent opening of John’s vision of
the National Gymnastics Performance and Research Centre at Loughborough
University which will serve elite performance and research in
gymnastics for years to come.
Chancellor, I have
the honour to present to you, and to the whole University, John
Atkinson for the degree of DOCTOR OF TECHNOLOGY honoris causa.