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UK Athletics

SPAR Sprints Conference voted big success

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Seventy coaches came away from the SPAR Sprints Conference held at the Thames Valley Athletics Centre, Eton on Sunday 8 October enthused by some of Britain’s best ever sprints coaches.


Newly appointed Chair of the Event Management Group for Speed, Tony Hadley teamed up with his former charge Derek Redmond, to organise the conference, united in the belief that sprints coaches need to share ideas and move forwards collectively. Hadley urged the delegates to all be thieves and steal ideas from the elite coaches leading practical workshops and discussions during the conference.


The panel of speakers and workshop leaders, who between them have coached some of the country’s finest athletes to World and Olympic medals were; John Anderson, Michael Afilaka, Colin Bovell, Clarence Callender, Lloyd Cowan, Nick Dakin, Tony Hadley, John Isaacs, Mike McFarlane, Ron Roddan, Mike Smith and Jim Spooner. 


UK Athletics Performance Coach for the Men’s 4x100m relay Michael Khmel and Senior Performance Coach for Relays Harry King also contributed to the programme, plus Strength and Conditioning Coach John Kiely.


Following a series of ‘speed dating’ discussions with a choice of coaches and practical workshops, the conference ended with an open forum, with questions from the delegates including ‘when should athletes start weight training?’ to the relative importance in order of skill, speed, strength, flexibility, psychology etc? The panel gave their frank and honest opinions, which led to some heated discussion chaired by Senior Co-ordinator for Sprints and Hurdles Derek Redmond.


Hadley said: “I’m hoping there will ultimately be a sea change. For a number of years, we have worked in isolation, in the environment of competition. The way the conference was structured was designed to be more open and interactive, to encourage coaches to share ideas. Hopefully, everyone has taken something away from the conference, but we can’t stop here it is about continued dialogue, moving forwards.”


Martin Owens, a coach based at Birmingham University said: “It was excellent, it is what we’ve needed for a long time. It is the first conference I have been to of this kind, the speakers brought a great amount of knowledge.”