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Coaching Community: Philip Oliver

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07/08/2019 00:00, In Blog /

Today in my 32nd year of involvement in athletics I can honestly say that I still get that same “buzz” working for the best interests of my athletes and club, long may it continue

My association with athletics began as a parent with my younger son of 12yrs of age taking up the sport back in 1987

I remember that the interest was manifested when my son finished 41st in a road race, without ever having previously raced before. It turned out that the first forty home all belonged to running clubs and after the race one of the clubs, Prestatyn, invited my son to join.

Little did I know then that down the line ‘Athletics’ would consume all of my spare time away from my work and even now, retired, it simply has not stopped.

I had been impressed with my son’s performance and his new found enthusiasm for running. It drew me in to support and I encouraged him as much as I could. I remember that I would stand at the top of the stadium looking down at my son training on the track at Colwyn Bay and becoming more interested in the club’s interests and activities. This lead to increase involvement in the club and athletics as a whole. As the saying is so aptly mentioned, time everlasting, ‘how did I ever have time to go to work’

Over the years I had been involved in the club in a variety of roles including taking up the chair for a while in the late 90’s and sitting on numerous club committees. I have also been fortunate to serve my Regional Board, Welsh Athletics Association and my club as a Team Manager, experiencing very many memorable and happy times. I have also supported my club and numerous events over the years within North Wales as a qualified Field Official, Timekeeper and Race Referee

A gentleman named Arthur Bebbington, who founded the club alongside Eileen Haskins, was himself a great motivator and he encouraged me to get involved

In 1989 I gained my Assistant Athletics Coach qualification. Today I represent UKA and Welsh Athletics Association as a Level 4 coach and consider myself highly proficient in supporting and coaching athletes from grass roots to elite level, specializing particularly in Middle Distance running.

In my career thus far I have produced numerous champions. In fact from 2003, apart from one year, I have coached Welsh Champions in National Championships (Indoor & Outdoor) and Welsh Schools Championships in events run at 60m,100m,200m,800m,1500m and even two athletes winning in the Welsh X/C Championships.

Perhaps my most pleasing and satisfying outcome to my respective work came in 2012 when an athlete, a young lady whom I had coached since the age of 11 represented Great Britain in the 100m individual and the 4 x 100m team relay race at the World Junior Games, held in Barcelona. She reached the semi finals in the individual 100m and the 4x100 quartet made it through to the finals. This, of course, was Rachel Johncock.

I have been fortunate to have worked with so many talented and successful athletes over the years. I still seek to continue my education within coaching even allowing for the numerous workshops I have attended over the years. I embrace and feed from most aspects that today’s Sport Science has to offer. On reflection the saying ‘Time passes by so quickly when you are having fun’ has never been more true

She started with me as a Middle Distance runner winning the 800m at National U13 championships and went on to become undefeated for a couple of years at 200m. During this time Welsh Athletics had proposed that she specializes in Sprints. Despite specializing in middle distance coaching and having a very limited knowledge of sprinting, she still wanted to remain under my coaching. We would travel down to South Wales once a month working with the National Sprints and Hurdles Coach at the time to improve my learning.

I studied hard reading literature on the subject and I still do today. Over time I also became proficient in the art of Sprint Coaching. She then went on to become National Champion in the 100m.

Interestingly, in working alongside her and the nature of my programming changed my philosophy in the way I approached my Middle Distance Coaching. I had been mentored by endurance coach who did very little speed work

In the years that have now followed my methodology is shaped with a large percentage of absolute speed and speed endurance  all the year round  and with other programming and schedules evidenced to quality rather than quantity

As the great Dr Coe once pronounced:

Endurance will get you across the finishing line but endurance and speed will see you there first


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