Dame Katherine Grainger is a surprise contender to be appointed the new chair of UK Sport ahead of Tuesday’s final interviews.
Great Britain’s most decorated female Olympian, who retired from rowing after winning a medal at a fifth Games last summer, has been shortlisted to succeed Rod Carr as head of the Government-appointed funding body.
The 41-year-old is understood to have been encouraged to apply for the role despite her lack of experience in sports administration.
The other known candidate is former Paralympic swimmer Marc Woods, who also competed at five Games, winning 12 medals between 1988 and 2004.
Whoever lands the role will take over at arguably the most challenging time in the history of UK Sport, which had previously basked in its reputation for helping transform Britain’s gold medal tally from one at the 1996 Olympics to 29 at London 2012 and 27 at Rio 2016.
It has since been engulfed by an athlete welfare crisis – most notably in British Cycling – and the biggest ever revolt against its publicly-funded medal-winning formula.
The new chair’s appointment would also coincide with the introduction of the Government’s Code for Sports Governance, which includes a requirement for 30 per cent of sports governing bodies’ boards to be female, as well as other diversity targets.
Being headed by a highly-decorated woman or disabled former athlete would allow UK Sport to lead by example in terms of a code it has been tasked with enforcing.
Carr steps down later this month after four years as chairman, having decided against standing for another term. He was formerly chief executive of the Royal Yachting Association between 2000 and 2010.
It is understood UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl had also been considering her future post-Rio 2016 but chose to stay on after Carr announced his departure.