Having made his Olympic debut in the Beijing Winter Games this year, 25-year-old Cross Country star, James Clugnet, is now standing for election to the British Olympic Association’s Athletes Commission. With the voting period underway, James took us through the reasons behind his candidacy.
First things first; what made you stand for the Commission during this round of election?
It sounds like a bit of a cliché, but I love the Team GB spirit. I’ve always felt part of the Team and I want to make sure the next generation can experience that too. I’m also a French speaker and I know the French culture, so with the next (Summer) Games taking place in Paris in 2024, I think I can really add some value to help ensure the best set-up for athletes at those Olympics.
I also really want to make sure that sport organisations work towards more sustainable sports and better welfare for athletes, and those are really important goals for me in standing for election.
How is it that you think Olympic athletes and sports can help sustainability efforts?
All sports, but particularly snowsport, are massively impacted by global warming, and we have a duty to show an example and really help sustainability efforts. Athletes are role models, and we can show that sustainable sport is possible and that big organisations can have ambitious sustainability goals. We have that power to inspire people to be better every day, and we need to use it to confront the biggest issues.
How important is it to you that athletes use their voice to speak up on things that matter to them?
As athletes, we love complaining! So many times I’ve complained with a teammate about this or that thing, but we don’t then do anything about it. Often sport organisations simply don’t get enough feedback from athletes and therefore don’t understand the things that are impacting them. I’d like to make sure, through the Commission, that every athlete’s voice is heard and that every athlete can feel comfortable communicating the issues they’re experiencing.
Cross-Country skiing is relatively niche in the British system. What are the lessons you’d be looking to bring to the Commission?
My sport is a small sport in the UK, but by training hard and following the examples of the best nations into the world, we’ve managed to become one of them. At the heart of that it’s about always striving to be better. I think that’s a lesson that other organisations could follow, and I know what it’s like to always aim for more.
Can you share your candidate statement with us?
I may compete in an individual sport, but I’m a born team player. I’ve always loved sharing success, both within and outside the world of sport. I want to use my strength as a team player to bring athletes together, give us a strong voice, and make us understood.
As an Athlete Commission Member, I would have a focus on environmental sustainability and athlete welfare. We are currently facing several global crises, and I will work tirelessly to make sure that our concerns as athletes are addressed in relation to these.
It can be hard as a British winter athlete to have your needs understood. This has given me an appreciation of how important it is for smaller sports to have someone to champion their needs. I will make sure smaller sports have a voice, while making sure the more established thoughts can continue to thrive.