Tuesday, 27 March 2012


It's the pinnacle of any athlete's career, and arguably the ultimate achievement of any coach - competing or coaching an athlete who goes on to compete in an Olympic Games.  But for Trackseed1 coach John Powell, the feeling of elation if sprints favourite James Ellington makes it to Stratford this summer could be tinged with bitterness.

The statistics have been around for years as to how many countries, athletes, journalists, tourists, spectators... will converge on London in July, and the work needed to run the biggest show on earth is little short of phenomenal. 

But for those who have toiled night and day, invested time, effort, money... blood, sweat, tears, and suffered tidal wave after tidal wave of emotion with the ups and downs of athlete progress, their reward is to watch their charge on the bniggest day of their lives - on TV in their own sitting room!

"Let's be vey clear here," says John.  "This is not the fault of UK Athletics, or of the British Olympic Association.  It is the way the International Ollympic Committee have always worked.  Access for coaches is hugely restricted and always has been - remember Chariots of Fire?

"It doesn't make it any easier though, and because it's always been the case doesn't mean to say it shouldn't change.  There are many sports whose coaches are afforded access, and of course UKA will have a full staff to support the athletes TeamGB send for the athletics events, and that support will be outstanding as always. 

"But the personal coach?  The guy who has worked for years and years with the athlete, ridden the rollercoaster of emotions any sporting career inevitably brings, and ultimately grooms one of the best athletes in a given discipline in the world?  Unless he's lucky in the ticket lottery everyone else had to endure (and I wasn't!) it's a packet of crisps on the sofa in front of the TV!

"In my humble view it is a situation that needs complete review.  If I had 30 minutes at the warmup track with my athlete, and 10 minutes standing in a corner in the stadium to watch him compete, and a brief hand-shake afterwards, that would be good enough for me.  That would be reward enough for everything.

"But all too often personal coaches are treated with contempt by international governing bodies.  Look at the World Youth Olympic Games in Singapore 2 years ago.  With Trackspeed1's David Bolarinwa, the fastest guy on the planet at the time for his age, I couldn't even get a pass to coach him at the training track in the days running up to the Games.  As for access to the event - forget it.  Buy tickets or, in my case, chat up a journalist and sneak in the back door!

"It's not about the athlete being so reliant on their coach that they need me there - it's a respect thing.  Without personal coaches sport would be on its back, and yet time and again they are taken for granted and treated with utter contempt.

"I have no doubt that venting my feelings on this blog will change nothing, but if anyone reading it is in a position to mount a challenge to proceedings for future years - feel free to get in touch.  It's time for change!"

No comments:

Post a Comment