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UKA 2009 Logo

01 September 2009

Article as featured in Athletics Weekly Magazine

The IAAF World Championships in Berlin have once again captured our imagination with some truly fantastic performances from British athletes, including Jessica Ennis, Phillips Idowu, Jenny Meadows and Will Sharman. While the athletes are the face of our sport it is important to recognise that these stand out performances are the result of many years of careful preparation, orchestrated by the athlete’s personal coaches.

After the disappointment of missing Beijing due to a stress fracture, Jessica’s coach Tony Minichiello left no stone unturned in his evaluation of the circumstances that may have contributed to her injury and his efforts have been rewarded with a flurry of PBs for the revitalised Ennis.

The establishment of a culture of continued self-reflection and professional development among athletics coaches is something I am keen to help promote and support both among UKA’s paid coaches and the wider voluntary community. To this end Idowu’s coach Aston Moore (National Event Coach for Triple Jump) has recently been working to develop his knowledge of cutting edge principles in strength and conditioning alongside top strength and power researcher Per Aagaard of Denmark.

As well as improving their own expertise, a key role for our National Event Coaches (NECs) will be to help develop the next generation of coaching talent. In the Women’s pole vault Kate Denison’s coach Steve Rippon (NEC  for Pole Vault) enjoyed a nerve racking final alongside two of his former athletes, and now up and coming coaches, Scott Simpson and Alan Richardson and it was good to see the three working together to capture and analyse Kate’s performance.

Meanwhile, heptathlete Louise Hazel’s coach Julie Holman has shown her dedication to a future in coaching by uprooting her life in Birmingham and relocating to Lee Valley to work for and be mentored by Centre Director and top coach Dan Pfaff, who most recently worked with Olympic heptathlon silver medalist Hyleas Fountain.

Behind the scenes at Berlin another coach development initiative was underway. Hosted by former BAF National Director of Coaching Frank Dick the “World Class Coaches Club” (WCCC) aims to give developing coaches, currently working with up and coming athletes, the opportunity to experience the realities of preparing for a major senior championship and attend seminars with experienced coaches of elite athletes. Among the coaches chosen for the scheme were Simon Duberley, coach to European U23 400m champion Nigel Levine, and Bob Gaisie, coach to under 20 200m Champion Shaunna Thompson.

Throughout the week the two were charged with collecting the names and contact details for the personal coaches of every athlete to make a final in the sprints. Such an exercise not only helps to record and celebrate the hard work of personal coaches from around the world but also created an ideal networking opportunity. Exposure to a wide an array of coaching experiences is a key component to improving one’s coaching expertise and I look forward to seeing how the process helps them both develop their athletes in the future.