By: Duncan Mackay

August 8 - Simon Hollingsworth has been appointed the new executive director of the Australian Sports Commission (ASC), the Sports Minister Mark Arbib announced today.

Hollingsworth, 39, is a former 400 metres hurdler who represented Australia at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics in Barcelona and Atlanta respectively.

The Oxford University graduate, who has a degree in Commerce, Law, and Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, replaces Peter Fricker, who had been the acting chief executive but has now quit to take up a new role overseas.

Hollingsworth is currently working as Executive Director in the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet.

"Simon has a unique combination of experience as both a former Olympian and Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) scholarship holder and as a respected and accomplished senior official in the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet," said Arbib.

"I look forward to working with Simon and the team at the ASC."

Arbib wants Hollngsworth to streamline the ASC, which currently has more than 700 civil servants working for it at its Canberra headquarters, and refocus on its original charter, which was to ensure the AIS and Olympic sportsmen and women were the best in the world.

"I am extremely pleased that we have secured the services of a leader of the calibre of Mr Hollingsworth for this critical position in Australian sport," said Warwick Smith, the chairman of the ASC.

"Mr Hollingsworth brings significant high performance experience with firsthand knowledge as an athlete at the elite level, having represented Australia at two Olympic and Commonwealth Games.

"However, it is Simon's strong track record in public administration both here in Australia and in the United Kingdom, backed by his skills developed as a Rhodes Scholar [at Oxford] , that will enable him to lead and support Australian sport into the future."

Among Hollingsworth's first tasks will be to appoint a new director to head the AIS.

"I am excited about the opportunity to lead the ASC and continue to build on the existing priorities for Australian sport," he said.

"As someone who has experienced all that sport has to offer, I am committed to ensuring the ASC and the AIS deliver the most effective support and development initiatives for our greatest athletes and that we also increase the opportunities for Australians to participate in sport at the level of their choice."