Following the launch of the National and Regional Development Programme at the Coaching Conference (October 2017) the Regional Speed programme has provided opportunities for athletes, coaches and parents to engage with development activity.
‘The overall aim of the regional programme is to help equip athletes with the skills to progress on to the national programme and to represent Wales.’
The Speed programme is designed in the following way;
Several athlete and coach development opportunities have been organised and delivered by Denis Doyle (North Wales Coach and Athlete Support Officer) supported by a team of coaches in North Wales. These sessions have provided the opportunity for coaches and athletes to share good practice and learn together. Further sessions are planned for March.
The South of Wales is divided into two regional programmes with Speed co-ordinators;
- South & East Wales - Jason Quirke
- West Wales - Steve Boyles
Initially athletes were invited to attend regional activity based on their competition performances from the 2017 season. While this is not a performance focused programme, identifying athletes in this way does provide an objective basis to bring together athletes of a similar ability level.
Two major themes have been prioritised:
- Relay skills
- Physical Preparation.
The programme coordinators have done a terrific job engaging with coaches and parents to bring together some of the emerging athletes from across the regions. At this stage of the programme approx. 40 athletes, 30 parents and 12 coaches have participated in the regional speed programme.
During the autumn/winter delivery period 5 days have been held (3 South East, 2 West). A brief report from each day is available here.
In addition to the overall aim of the programme highlighted above, we expect that by providing clarity to the athlete pathway and providing opportunities for athletes to learn and develop that retention through the age groups will see an upward trend. We are all very aware of the drop off rate between the u17 to u20 age groups, this is certainly not a new phenomenon and is a common trend across all sports in Wales. However, we have previously and will continue to produce and nurture high calibre athletes throughout the pathway, particularly in the older age groups.
By the 2022 Commonwealth Games I believe we can re-write the record books across all age groups in the relay events. We currently have many very promising junior athletes in sprints and hurdles, the task for the next few years will be to convert talented juniors into successful seniors.
This is a collective responsibility between athletes, coaches, parents and Welsh Athletics. It is a responsibility I relish and look forward to progressing with those seeking the challenge.
‘…the task for the next few years will be to convert talented juniors into successful seniors.’
With the regional and national programmes, as well as, the Athlete Support Programme this is an excellent time to be an emerging athlete in Wales.
We look forward to continuing with the Speed programmes in the spring and summer of 2018.
- Jason Quirke, Steve Boyles, Gareth Walton, Dave Norton, Lewis Clarke, & Diane Breeden
- Athletes, coaches and parents for supporting the programme
By Neil Wheeler
National Sprints, Hurdles and Relays Manager