Welsh Athletics unveil top coaches at UWIC 

WITH the Welsh Open Senior Championships just around the corner (26 January 2008), Welsh Athletics today took the covers off the coaches who have been busy cultivating the nation’s up and coming hopes.

Sweden’s former National Hurdles Coach - Bengt-Erik Blomkvist –- is just one of three recent coaching appointments.

Funded by Sports Council for Wales, UK:Athletics and University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC), the positions are based in Cardiff but athletes across Wales are benefiting as the coaches regularly rotate around the country.

Blomkvist is responsible for producing the next generation of household names. And he certainly has a wealth of experience. From 1996 to 2004, he served as the Swedish Team Coach at all junior and senior European and World Championships as well as the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

In 1993, he was charged with responsibility for the development of 100 and 110m hurdles in Sweden. Eight years later, he was appointed head coach of sprint/hurdles.

He explains: “I am very impressed by the facilities in Wales and the possibilities they present. The future plans for athletics here in Wales are very exciting and I’m glad to be a part of it. UK:Athletics and Welsh Athletics work very well together and are going in an excellent direction.”

Already, Commonwealth silver medallist over 110m hurdles Chris Baillie has relocated from Scotland in order to train with Blomkvist. Choosing Cardiff as his training base has had a knock on effect for Welsh hurdlers, in particular Heather Jones who now trains daily with Baillie.

Blomkvist has coached Sweden’s twin sisters and hurdlers Susanna and Jenny Kallur for the last ten years. Earlier this year, Susanna was voted by the people of Sweden to be the nation’s best sportsperson. Her achievements include winning gold in the 60m hurdles at the 2007 European Indoor Championships, 100m hurdles gold at the 2006 European Championships in Gothenburg and bronze at the 2006 World Indoors in Moscow over the 60m hurdles. It was a Kallur one-two at the European Indoors in 2005 with Susanna beating Jenny for the gold over the 60m hurdles.

Chief Executive of Welsh Athletics, Matt Newman, explains: “This is yet another sign of how Welsh Athletics is moving forward. Bengt is an excellent addition to the performance team in Wales. He brings some excellent technical skills and an engaging personality which will help spread his expert knowledge across Wales.  I’m delighted that we’ve been able to attract such a high-calibre coach.”

The Swedish coach is not the only new arrival at the National Indoor Athletics Centre (NIAC) in UWIC. Cwmbran’s Darrell Maynard is also joining the team as a part-time Development Performance Coach.

The former physical training officer for the British Army and Police is the man behind the success of David Greene who was triumphant in the European U23s Championships this summer. He also works with Richard Hill and a number of disability athletes including Tracy Hinton and John McFall who are both tipped for success at the Beijing Paralympics.

His efforts were recognised by the Sports Council for Wales in its 2006 Coach of the Year Awards. Maynard is a five-time Welsh indoor champion over 400m and 800m. He is also a black belt in Akido and a foster carer.

Meanwhile, a former Welsh javelin international is returning to Wales to take up the position of UWIC Performance Coach.

Now employed by UWIC, Nigel Bevan – who hails from Ammanford - competed at three Commonwealth Games and at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. He is the current Welsh record holder with 81.70m.

He is leaving his current post as Head of PE at Finborough High School, Suffolk. A qualified Sports Science lecturer and UK:Athletics tutor with a BSc from Brunel University and an MSC from Frostburg (Maryland, USA), he has also worked for Birchfield Harriers as Operations and Development Manager.

Like Blomkvist, Bevan is thoroughly pleased with the facilities: “NIAC is a fantastic facility but there are also others dotted around Wales which is vital. I remember throwing medicine balls at my Dad’s old coal bunker so things have certainly changed since my day. The facilities are conducive to world-class performance and this is backed-up with coaching, sports science and sports psychology.”

Newman continues, “Wales has punched above its weight in athletics in recent years. These appointments will help us to realise our full potential and move us closer to a fully operational high-performance centre in Wales. The profile of these coaches is already attracting world class athletes from other home nations, which will accelerate the inclusion of Cardiff to the top table of UK athletics”.

As well as an improved coaching set up, services to athletes will be bolstered by two further roles as a physiotherapist as well as a strength and conditioning coach will join the performance team at UWIC.

For further information contact Sarah Narusberg, Press Officer, Tel: 029 2041 6221, or e-mail: snarusberg@uwic.ac.uk
Web: http://www.uwic.ac.uk/