Saturday, 16 April 2016


It was 40 years ago today that Trackspeed1-UK head coach, John Powell took his first coaching badge at Crystal Palace, with coach Ron Roddan, coach of eventual Olympic and World 100m Champion, Linford Christie. 
A montage of some of John's international athletes since the turn
of the century including Chris Lambert, James Ellington,
Dwayne Grant, Jason Hussain, and Wade Bennett-Jackson
During the ensuing four decades, what he describes as an "unimaginable rollercoaster" shaped his life and formed a sporting community that he sits at the centre of today.

Speaking from his squad's warm weather training camp in Florida, USA, he reflected on a voluntary career that shadowed but supplemented what most would see as one of the more challenging professions:

"Many thought that coaching and the Police would clash big time," he said, "but in fact they complemented each other really well.  I learned people management skills in the Police, but adapted them to a massively diverse audience - many young - in athletics.

"I liked to think I could actually relate to young people far better as a result.  As time went on, management and organisational experience in athletics definitely helped in various ways through the ranks in the Met'.  The combination, I strongly believe to this day, made me a better coach and a better Police Officer."

Of the many highlights during the last 40 years, the early days saw arguably the most successful youth scheme in British Athletics created at then Blackheath Harriers, winning five national titles under John's management.  That then formed the trigger for an international coaching career that saw him travel worldwide, developing contacts and coaching partnerships all over the globe.

John's squads were highlighted by athletes taking part in Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, World and European Championships, along with innumerable World and European Junior Championships.

David Bolarinwa became only the third British junior to win three medals at a European junior championships under John's tutelege, while Chris Lambert won gold in the European under-23 championships 200m in a record time that stands to this day, along with the 4x100m relay, and then the World Student title over 100m all in the same year.

In 2013 John was presented with the MBE for services to Athletics by HM The Queen - a moment he described as more thrilling than any track success by any of his athletes ever!
The biggest moment of his coaching career - HM The Queen rewards John
with the MBE for services to Athletics.
On the day that he celebrated his 40 years holding a stop watch, his squad produced a mass of personal best times at pre-season time trials at their US base - and to cap it all, Head of Performance for British Athletics, Neil Black, put in a surprise appearance!

In what he describes as "life-part 2" John still has many challenges ahead, not least his currently 2 and 4 year-old daughters!  He is currently Chairman, Life Member and President of his club, Belgrave Harriers, and remains hugely ambitious to be part of the international athletics scene in the years to come.

Just a few moments from the later days of his coaching career are captured hereunder...

A spot interview on Australian TV during a training trip in Queensland
Bronze for athlete Wade Bennett-Jackson in the World Junior
Championships 4x100m relay in  Beijing 2006
Chris Lambert celebrates his World Student 100m title in South Korea, 2003
John talks through a training session Stateside with
Olympic sprinter James Ellington
This Trackspeed1-UK relay quartet sent shockwaves through some
top American college teams with a 40.12 4x100m in Orlando
John stands in front of the Harvard University track and field records
board which show Chris Lambert's college records which stand to this day.
John with European Junior 200m Champion, David Bolarinwa, 2011
John meets a track legend - former world 200m and 400m
record holder Michael Johnson

Another liaison with one of the world's all-time great sprinters - Don Quarrie
John shakes with British Athletics Head Coach Charles Van Commenee
whilst at the holding camp in Portugal for the London Olympics
Congratulating eventual Dame, Kelly Holmes, after her first
gold medal in the Athens Olympics, 2004
Carrying the London Olympics Torch at Crystal Palace 23/7/12 
Another shot of that big day with longest-serving
 athlete in the squad, and who led the nomination,
Jason Hussain
Another international and Olympian, Dwayne Grant.

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