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Blog spot: Uka futures programme

Katie Byres
Katie Byres is in action in this week's European Junior Championships under the expert eye of her coach Julien Raffalli
20 July 2011

Blog Spot: UKA Futures Programme

User AvatarPosted by Site Administrator at 20/7/2011 10:18:16 AM

Julien Raffalli is coach to Katie Byres, the UK’s second-best-equal under-20 pole vaulter in the All-Time rankings behind her training partner Holly Bleasdale, also coached by Raffalli, who is the UK senior record holder and 2011 European Under-23 Champion.

Hey guys!!!

I’ve been given the opportunity to share bits from my coaching season by UKA, so here is my first instalment.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a pole vault coach based in Manchester and I look after about six athletes - three of whom are on lottery funding. Those three are Katie Byres, Holly Bleasdale, the UK senior record holder, European Under-23 champion and World Junior bronze medallist and Andrew Sutcliffe, also a World Junior bronze medallist.

Katie is on the UKA “Futures Programme”. She’s only 17 and last year finished ninth in the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

After coming back from Singapore, Katie got back into winter training pretty much as soon as she landed in Britain! She was disappointed with her display in the Far East, and came back extremely motivated for the heavy winter training. The training has been going very well. With the support from UKA she was able to start working, once a week, with the amazing strength and conditioning team at the EIS in Manchester. This extra session has helped Katie a great deal over the winter, developing her into a considerably stronger and faster athlete. So, by the time the competitive season started, I was rather excited to say the least. In her second competition of the winter she cleared 4.13m, a new PB. Things were starting to come together, but the following week she became ill with tonsillitis. The illness got the better of her and it was already time to draw the curtain on a very short indoor season.

And so Katie got back into fitness work.

During April and May her technique significantly improved. She began competing off a short run up and at the Loughborough International she cleared 4.00m. She won the Aviva U20 trials at Bedford, with 4.00m, and got selected for Mannheim.

In Germany, Katie won the competition with a massive PB height of 4.20m – which equals the second best height of all time by an U20 British athlete - and in the process she beat a very strong field.  

Katie is now putting the final touches to her preparation for the U20 European Championships in Tallinn (Estonia). As I’ve been away with the U23 team in Ostrava, she’s been working with one of my athletes, Laurie Needham, before heading down to the UKA National Performance Centre in Loughborough to train under our National Event Coach, Alan Richardson.

I shall let you know how “KTB” is getting on next week. I will join her in Tallinn on Thursday - with her qualification round starting late that afternoon.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog,

Until next time,


The UKA Futures Programme underpins the World Class Performance Programme (WCPP) and was borne out of the restructure of UKA’s WCPP and the drive towards more targeted support for athletes and their coaches.

The programme targets young athletes with the potential to deliver global medals for Britain in the future.

Athletes and their coaches will be supported in their individual development plans allowing for more flexibility and individual discretion around distribution if resources. 28 coach-athlete pairs have been included in the 2010/11 Futures Programme.