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Friday 9 July 2004


John Atkinson

Public Orator, Professor Fred Yeadon presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Friday 9 July 2004 at 3.00pm.

Chancellor, Deputy 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 competition.

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 Federation,
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.


Loughborough University - Degree Speeches 2004, July 2004
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