British T&F coaches back in action at this weekends British Athletics National Championships

British Athletics National Championships Medals

This weekend saw Manchester (UK) host the British Athletics National Championships for the first time in 16 years, boasting a sparkly new blue track…perhaps a symbol of the current change taking place within the sports governing body.

After a year which has seen many athletes and coaches unable to train consistently and with doubt whether these Championships could even go a head at all, it was fantastic to see such incredible performances with a host of PB’s, National Records and Championship Records.

As part of our ongoing FCN | Track & Field Project, we took some time to analyse the stats around the female coaches involved and celebrate the performances of female coached athletes.

Female Coach Stats

To add to our growing database of stats around athletics in the U.K, we have analysed the number of athletes entered into each event who have a female coach. See the table below for a numbers of competing athletes and number of female coaches in each event:

*please note, if you spot any mistakes, please let us know. We have relied on third party resource for this information!

Medal Winning Performances

Marina Armstrong – Jessie Knight in the 400m hurdles – Gold

Jessie has had a phenomenal year, despite having to train on grass tracks and her home street! Back in February she won the World Indoor Tour 400m flat in Glasgow, beating the current European Champion Justyna Święty from Poland. Jessie carried that momentum into her lockdown training as she achieved PB’s in time trials working alongside the brilliant Marina Armstrong. Marina who has developed an incredible 400m and 400m hurdle group based in South England, and has developed a number of junior and seniors to GB representation.At this years Champs, Jessie improved on last years bronze medal coming through to win Gold.

Jessie Knight – Coach Marina Armstrong

“I am over the moon, it was my first outdoor win as I got a bronze here last year. I have so much respect for all the athletes here, we have all still come out and we are still enjoying it. I missed out on the World Championships last year by 400th of a second. This year, I’m the British Champion, I have got the Olympic qualifying time so I am crossing my fingers that it goes ahead next year.”

Marina Armstrong – Chris McAlister in the 400m Hurdles – Silver

Chris is one of three of Marina’s athletes appearing at this years Championships, coming off a fantastic year last year with his first GB representation at the World Championships in Doha. Having also competing in the indoor season, Chris carried his 400m flat speed into an outdoor hurdles season which saw him compete in the Paavo Nurmi Games and Resisprint International before taking the silver at this years British Championships in Manchester.

“My own training has been ok but getting the early season competition in has been tricky. I ran a good time in Nuneaton but then I have fallen away a bit after picking up a bug. But I feel fine now and I did all I could today. The event is getting really strong, it is great to have healthy competition so I need to really push myself and get into good shape early next year and secure that qualifying time for Tokyo.”

Deirdre Elmhirst – Joel Clarke-Khan in the High Jump – Gold

A huge win came in the high jump for coach Deirdre Elmhirst, as her athlete Joel came back from an injury that kept him away for 2 seasons. Deirdre, who is a medical writer and Director of her own consultancy business based in Worcester, has a number of high jumpers ranging from U15’s up to Senior.

Joel, who is ranked 6th in the UK, pulled off a fantastic last jump to win with 2.18m

Joel Clarke-Khan – Coach Deirdre Elmhirst

“I am very very happy. I came here to do a job and I got it done. I actually knocked the bar on that (winning) jump and I thought the bar might come off. When I watched the video I had my hands on my head. But the competition worked out well. After serious injury and being out for two years I am used to preparing and working hard in my own space and getting the work done. Missing a whole season through injury maybe helped me this year as I have had that experience. My goal will be the European Under 23s next year. I am very happy with today’s win and it sets me up well for next year.”

Carol Jackson – William Grimsey High Jump – Silver

Coach Carol is as part of the British Track & Field scene as the high jump event itself. Carol, like many high jump coaches across the country, has been working hard throughout lockdown to create coaching plans and sessions to keep her athletes in form without the use of facilities – a must for technical event athletes! Carol has also been busy behind the scenes ensuring the annual BIG (Bedford International Games) Competition was delivered. Albeit it outside of Bedford and with a smaller schedule, Carol provided jumpers across the Country with the opportunity to compete. Will, Carol’s top athlete, was favourite to win and was a little disappointed with his performance overall, but has plenty to build on for next season after his Silver at the British Champs.

“I feel that result does not really reflect where I am at the moment. The conditions were fine, the wind was not ideal but, it is not really an excuse. It is nice to be back in competition but, I am just looking forward to next year.”

Jenni Banks – Hannah Cockroft in the 400m Wheelchair Race – Gold

Coach Jenni and athlete Hannah Cockroft are one of the most successful coach-athlete combo’s in British Track & Field history. Jenni, learned her trade in her home country of Australia, and has coached in Hannah since 2013. Hannah is a multiple Paralympic and World Championship medallist and World Record holder and took the 400m Wheelchair race at this years British Athletics National Championships. Hannah stormed to victory down the home straight, winning by just over 2 seconds.

Hannah Cockroft – Coach Jenni Banks

“I wasn’t expecting to win that – Sammi (Kinghorn) is usually fair way ahead of me over 400. It shows lockdown training has gone well – even if it is the most creative I have ever done. I just needed this time to realise what we were missing – every year you come out and push yourself but when it was taken away I had time to stop and realise I do the most amazing thing in the world. I’ll take the next 12 months to prepare. I have used this time to deal with some little things so now it is time for more hard work towards Tokyo.”

Bronwin Carter – Serena Vincent in the Shot Put – Bronze

Coach Bronwin Carter, based in the City Portsmouth, has a group of shot putters rain gin from u15 right up to V50. Bronwin works with Serena on her technical aspects and strength and conditioning in the shot put. Serena Vincent has an impressive junior CV, competing at a number of European Junior events and holding the British junior record holder at U18 and U17 level, won Bronze behind Britains best two female shot put throwers Sophie McKinna and Amelia Strickler

“I am over the moon with that. I am only 18 and to get a bronze medal at the Senior British Championships is amazing. I love throwing against the big girls as I look up to them and because it was tight, it created a great atmosphere so I really enjoyed it. For us athletes we need to try and create an atmosphere because we will throw better and compete better when we have a crowd. So, when we don’t, we have to create it ourselves. This year has been a bit of a an odd one. I am not sure what will be happening with competitions but we will go back to the drawing board.”

Lorraine Shaw – Craig Murch in the Hammer – Gold

Coach Lorraine Shaw, a former Hammer thrower and Commonwealth Medallist and Olympian, is based in the Gloucester and has coaches Craig since 2016. Craig took the National title with his 5th throw of 73.24.

Craig Murch – Coach Lorraine Shaw

“It’s been an amazing day. For British Athletics to commit to putting on this event, it’s incredible. So much motivation for us throwers after lockdown. To have end goal for the year, because it’s hard to train winter, winter, winter it’s been great to have these champs. 73.24m, it was a good throw. I’m a little disappointed in the distance, I was hoping for 75m today because I think that sets me up nicely for the winter. But it’s cold, and I was throwing into a head wind. The medal is the most important thing today and making the most of it. It was just a dream throw really.”

Christine Bowmaker – Laviai Nielsen in the 400m – Gold

Laviai stormed to victory in the 400m with a seasons best, making the race look easy as she cruised down the home straight by a winning margin of 20 meters. Coached by Christine Bowmaker, Laviai is a an experienced championship and relay runner, with a number of relay medals to her name. Laviai is also a big supporter of the FCN and has expressed the need for the sport to have more female coaches at the performance level. Read her post Why having a female coach has been the best thing about my journey… as she discusses her relationship with Coach Christine and the impact Christine has had on her career.

Laviai Nielsen – Coach Christine Bowmaker

“I am delighted to have run a season’s best and dip under 52 so really glad to have come and done that.  Running here this weekend is all about taking the positives and it is a great position to be in. It was great when the Champs got the go ahead as when I started the season there were no meets and so it was difficult to feel motivated.  Once I got some competitions I started to feel the pressure which is much better for me as I love it when I am competing under pressure. I feel very privileged to be able to race.”

Other female coaches with athletes at the Champs include: Helen Patricia-James, Karen Buck, Linda McGreavy, Lorna Boothe, Laura Turner-Alleyne, Julie Alexander, Coral Norrice, Jenny Archer, Lynn Cooper, Helen Elleker, Nicola Haines-Jones and Alison Wyeth.

If we have missed anyone, please let us know!

Shout Out & Congratulations

Aimée Knight & Abi Irozuru

A big shout out and huge congratulations to our two FCN team members Abi Irozuru and Aimée Knight. Abi, one of the World’s best long jumpers took Silver in the Championships and Aimée made her debut at the Champs a Sports Therapist.