Simon Jones will walk away from his position as Performance Director at AusCycling after the Tokyo Olympic Games, with the 2017 recruit from Team Sky announcing he’ll be shifting away from elite cycling just a week before racing begins at the event which has long been marked as a litmus test for his performance in the role.
Jones was bought into the position, at what was then called Cycling Australia, after the nation delivered what was considered a disappointing medal tally from cycling at the Rio Olympics in 2016, with just a silver and a bronze on the track. It’s a tenure that hasn’t been without controversy, ranging from selection appeals, to staff cuts and a contentious Tweet. Though, throughout the clear objective for Jones has always been the delivery of medals at the Tokyo Olympics, with the bulk of the funding of the Australian cycling organisation coming from government and primarily targeted at yielding Olympic Games success.
“Running a high-performance program is one of the toughest gigs in sport and while it will be sad to farewell Simon, we respect his decision to pursue a new opportunity outside elite cycling,” AusCycling CEO, Marne Fechner said in a statement.
“Simon has driven a targeted and focused approach to performance, implemented a holistic athlete development culture, delivered greater detail in planning, capacity and diversity in the support team and coaching workforce, while also securing new sponsors and partners that have enabled the development of genuine world class equipment and technology."
Jones' time at AusCycling, has included a number of unexpected challenges, from a global pandemic and all its implications – which included a Tokyo deferral that also led to the retirement of an irreplaceable gold medal prospect Stephanie Morton – to a big shift within the organisation itself to bring together the varied cycling disciplines under the one umbrella.
“Simon has not only helped guide cycling’s high-performance program through the significant challenge of the COVID19 pandemic but has also played an important role in the reform process that led to the creation of AusCycling," Fechner said.
“The team and coaching staff are motivated and fully prepared to execute on their plans in Tokyo and expect that their performances will pay tribute to Simon’s leadership.”
Jones, who had also previously worked with British Cycling and the Western Australian Institute of Sport, stepped into the role outlining a plan which included four to six gold medals at Tokyo. There was also little resiling from the fact that attempting to regain the nation's former role as an Olympic cycling force could be a process that created waves. In 2017, following an appeal altered selection for the women's Road World Championships team, Jones told Cyclingnews that, “I knew we needed some disruption and we’ve not finished yet.”
“I have spent my entire career working at the cutting edge of professional cycling in a high pressure and highly rewarding environment, but the time is right for a change,” said Jones in this weekend's media statement.
He didn’t disclose what his next role would be but said that, having reflected on what he wanted the next stage of his career to look like, he knew the decision to leave was the right one.
“The next phase of my career enables me to continue my lifetime passion for the bike, remain in Australia, commute less frequently and enable a timely recruitment process to be undertaken,” said Jones.
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