Celebrating Female Track & Field Coaches in the U.K. (Part 1)


This year will see Manchester (UK) hosting the British Athletics National Outdoor Championships, as athletes all over the Country fight for those coverted GB spots for the up and coming Tokyo Olympics.

Over the last 18 months, we have been working towards supporting UKA in creating gender equity in their coaching workforce, having launched our own research project in partnership with Leeds Beckett University.

Achieving Gender Equity in High Performance Athletics Coaching in the U.K” which was launched in February, identified a number of barriers female coaches face at the elite end of the sport. These findings, along with recommendations laid out by Professor Leanne Norman, aim to change the culture of the sport, improve the environment women coach in, and increase the opportunities for all coaches in reaching performance coaching roles.

In addition to our research, our FCN | Track and Field Project aims to highlight and celebrate some of the women who are coaching performance athletes in the U.K.

Follow us on Twitter over the weekend of the Champs as week celebrate many of these women and their impact on the sport.

Meet the female coaches (part 1)

Coach: Marina Armstrong

Marina Armstrong

Coach Marina Armstrong and her squad have had a phenomenal few seasons! Marina, who specialises in 400m and 400m hurdles, currently coaches a large squad of male and female athletes across the South of England. She has had consistent success ranging from junior to senior medals, and GB representation, including Chris McAllister competing for GB at the 2019 World Championships.

Currently, Marina’s most notable athlete is Jessie Knight, who stormed to a shock victory winning the 400m at the 2020 Indoor Grand Prix in Glasgow, beating the then European Outdoor Champion Justyna Święty-Ersetic. Since then, Jessie has gone on to sign with Nike, compete at a number of Diamond League events and has the A standard needed for Tokyo 2020.

Marina was a sprinter back in her native Country, the former Soviet Union, and gained a Masters in Athletics. She moved over to England working as an architect and began coaching her daughter in 2005. Having been part of many coach development programmes delivered by UKA and England Athletics, Marina has worked hard to become one of the best coaches in the Country.

Look out for athletes Jessie Knight, Chris McAllister, Jacob Paul, Nicole Kendall

Coach: Carol Jackson

Photo courtesy of British Athletics, Women On Track

What Coach Carol Jackson doesn’t know about High Jump isn’t worth knowing! Carol has coached male and female athletes in the high jump for decades, and has a very long list of successful athletes to her name.

Most notably, Carol Jackson had a big hand in the success of GB High Jumper Robbie Grabarz, who was one of the 4 GB Track & Field athletes to win a medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Having been taught PE at school by British Sprinter and Olympian Janet Simpson, Carol became hooked on athletics and in particular the High Jump. In her own words, not being the best of athletes, Carol took to Coaching and hasn’t looked back since.

Carol is also one of the only female Track & Field event organisers in the Country, as each year since the 90’s she has planned, set up and delivered BIG (Bedford International Games). BIG has seen some historic performances by the Countries best athletes, including Adam Gemilli’s 100m in 2015 as he broke 10 seconds, joining a very small group of British men to do so.

Coach: Christine Harrison-Bloomfield

Coach Christine Harrison-Bloomfield is a sprints Coach based in the South of England. A former international sprinter, with a 100m PB of 11.32 and 200 of 22.85, Christine now coaches some of the Countries best athletes across all ages groups.

Christine’s most notable athlete is 400m international GB athlete Laviai Nielsen. Laviai and Christine have been working together since 2017 and since then have gone on to represent GB at European and World Champion stage and has become a stalwart of the 4 x 400m relay squad.

Christine is an advocate for female coaches and has been a trailblazer in the elite coaching world. In July 2020, Christine was named by UK Sport as one of the 27 coaches in a new scheme to increase female representation in sport. The programme sees 27 coaches across 15 sports, given the opportunities to develop, in a quest to double female representation for the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic games.

Coach: Jenny Archer

Coach Jenny Archer is one of the most successful Wheelchair coaches in history, having been coach to David Weir since 2002.

It was in a previous role when running a fitness programme for the “Crazy Gang” of Wimbledon FC when Jenny, a former 400m and 800m runner – began to make her name in coaching and she went on to join the football club as a full-time fitness coach. Since then she has coached a number of individuals and teams.

Jenny was awarded an MBE in 2014 for services to Athletics, with a huge list of successes to her name. In 1988, she coached her first athletes to Olympic Games in Seoul, 8 gold IPC European Championship medals, 7 London Marathon victories, 7 Paralympic gold medals and won High Performance Coach of the Year award 2004, 2008, and 2012.

Jenny and David have since launched the Weir Archer Academy which provides athlete and coaching support and expertise across all levels and abilities at both schools and clubs.

CLICK HERE for part 2