Coaching News – August

Let me start this month’s newsletter with a thank you for your patience and understanding whilst we dealt with our recent family bereavement.  This came at a critical time in the season for many of our athletes and, in a matter of just a few weeks: Deb has run a course PB over 10k; Steve represented Team GB at the world Duathlon Championships once again; Ian completed half of his incredible 20 Olympic distance triathlons in 20 days; Grahame finished the Midnight Man; Jon completed the Outlaw IM; Vikki picked up yet another triathlon race victory; Fiona finished IM Copenhagen; Toni completed ride London and Craig finished the Ely Middle.  We at least had the distraction of following all your performances and thus shared the satisfaction of a job well done for many of you. It also concentrated the mind to focus on the priorities and, as a result, there are a number potential opportunities and changes that we will consider further at the next business meeting, scheduled for September, not least to allow more consistency in producing your monthly invoices!

Now, after a little bit of catch up, it will be back to business as usual as we see out the final few races of this season.  Usual for this time of year of course means that some of you will have seen your training pans extended by an extra week to take us beyond this weekend and our annual trip to Powerman Zofingen and the World Long Distance Duathlon Champs.  This race is, of course, pretty much where we came in, but we have come far since those early days supporting athlete development for this still rather unique event.  In recent years, whilst retaining a similar number year on year, long distance duathletes have become a smaller percentage of our business and thus some changes to the business structure are required.  More news on how we aim to restructure the business to better support your athletic needs will therefore follow soon.

Another useful distraction this summer was to attend the World Athletics Championships as a guest of Sarah’s sister-in-law and we had the pleasure of finally watching some athletics in the Olympic Stadium after missing out in 2012.  It was a fantastic experience to appreciate the talents and energy of a whole range of athletes and it reignited my enthusiasm for the sport.  Watching the camaraderie of the male pole vaulters – cheering each other on even as he medals were being decided and staying in the arena even after elimination – was a pleasure to experience.  The men’s steeplechase was epic and overall it was a brave if less fruitful evening of performances for Team GB athletes with lots of 4th places the result.  Fourth is the worst place to finish and many athletes can sympathise here, not least Jo Pavey, whose best track performance was a 4th place finish in the 10,000m at the World Championships in 2007.  Ten years later however, after the disqualification of drugs cheat Elvan Abeyleglasse, Jo has finally been upgraded to a bronze medal.  For the only time in her track career, she stood on the podium at the London Olympic Stadium with the silver medallist Kara Goucher and enjoyed a brief and belated moment in the limelight.

Although we weren’t in the stadium for the finale to the track careers of Mo Farah and Usain Bolt, we cheered both on from home and experienced their final races on the world stage.  As expected, both the national and sporting press were full of the anti climax and the lack of a fairy-tale finish.  However, the occasion could have been used to welcome in the new guard rather than just say a lengthy and sad farewell to the old and, if nothing else, is a welcome reminder as to just how hard it is to get to, let alone stay at the top in athletics.  Whilst the new 10,000m world champion Muktar Edris can be excused his rather apologetic MoBot on the finish line and will hopefully be a worthy champion, will athletics fans ever accept two time doper Justin Gatlin his drug fuelled past?

Probably not would be my guess and yet here we have a risk of holding double standards.  Although certainly there is no suggestion of wrong doing on the part of Mo Farah, his decision to retain the coaching services of Alberto Salazar is certain to damage his legacy.  Salazar remains under investigation not least for allegedly encouraging the likes of Kara Goucher to take a thyroid hormone which she neither needed nor had an appropriate therapeutic use exemption.  It is in part Goucher’s evidence that Salazar faces now and therefore, as much as I approve of her belated honesty, should her performance level not also be subject to question?  This should mean that Jo Pavey would receive the silver medal thus providing Kimberley Smith, currently in that cursed 4th position with a much deserved bronze medal.

Obviously for those who regularly read this far, my thoughts often turn to drugs in sport but it is becoming increasingly prevalent even in amateur racing.  Please read up on the most recent – Kayle Leogrande.  Not the brightest cookie, but up until yesterday, despite already receiving a two-year doping ban in 2008, he was still racing against you and I whilst taking a concoction of seven banned substances.  At the other end of the scale, and in my category, Michael Ellerton received a two year ban for taking over the counter medications despite it being accepted by the investigators that he had not acted intentionally.  To this mix, there is now an increase in banned substances turning up in every day athletic supplements which are regularly used by both professional and age-group athletes.

Thankfully, UK Anti-Doping have increased the testing of age group racing both in and out of competition and yet, for the athlete, it is becoming harder to steer your way through the medication and supplement maze.  Therefore, as part of this summer’s CPD, I have qualified as an accredited adviser on behalf of UK Anti Doping through their 100% Me campaign.  Whilst I would encourage you all to take full responsibility for all the food, medication and supplements you take making full use of both Global Dro and Informed Sport, if you do have any questions or concerns then please do contact me straight away.

Thank you all for working so hard and producing some outstanding racing this season – please keep it up.

Invoices are on their way.

Best wishes

JC and Sarah

As ever, please email me to be removed from this distribution.

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