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UK Athletics

european race walking conference

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Race Walking Conference

09 November 2012

The second European Race Walking Conference was held at the National Race Walking Centre at Leeds Metropolitan University last weekend. The conference forms part of the European Athletics Coaching Summit Series and attracted 65 delegates from Europe, USA, South Africa and New Zealand.

The three day conference, which was supported by UK Athletics, the European Athletics Association, England Athletics, Leeds Metropolitan University and the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, focussed on performance and development. The conference included practical sessions and covered a number of different features of race walking including specialisation, event investment, peak performance and career maintenance.

Coaches shared evidence based practice and an insight from those outside of race walking provided a thorough and challenging conference which ended by revising the declaration that was made at the first European Race Walking Conference in 2010. On the Saturday evening the conference dinner was hosted by Headingley Stadium, the home of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Leeds Rhinos rugby league team and rugby union team Leeds Carnegie.

The speakers and presenters over the three days included:

Paulo Murta (POR) – Murta has coached Ana Cabecinha, a two-time top-10 Olympian and Portuguese record holder for the women’s 20 km walk, since the age of 11 and his keynote presentation to open the Conference detailed her progression. He discussed the all-round athletic training performed by young athletes aged between 10 and 14 in the sampling phase of their development as well as progressing to specialisation aged 15 and 16 and the activities that athletes invest in high performance training. Murta described the periodisation of performance and gave specific examples of training sessions undertaken in the different training phases.

Andrew Manley (GBR) – Maloney, a Sport Psychologist from the Carnegie Faculty at Leeds Metropolitan University, led a workshop on developing an understanding of the roles in working with young athletes. He provided examples of work conducted over the last two seasons with developing athletes (aged 14-17) and discussed future directions for sport psychology support.

Alison Rose (GBR), Oli Williamson (GBR)and Andy Walling (GBR) – Rose and Williamson of Coach House Physiotherapy Clinic and Walling, of Athlete Matters and Salomon Trail Running, led a workshop on functional movement screening for race walk athletes, with event specific examples from their practice with both developing race walkers and international team race walkers.

Martin Rush and Dave Rowland (GBR) – Rush and Rowland, both England Athletics National Coach Mentors, presented a workshop on conditioning for race walking using technical examples from the 2012 Olympic Games. Rush also led a workshop being utilised by the England Athletics National Coach Mentor Programme on how to introduce race walking to novice athletes and coaches of other disciplines.

Malcolm Brown (GBR) – Brown is the former Director of Sport at Leeds Metropolitan University and was the Olympic Performance Manager for British Triathlon at London 2012. His keynote presentation discussed the performance management challenges of coaching Olympic Champion Alistair Brownlee. He talked of the three way interaction between coach, athlete and the environment and gave examples of training progression and how to carefully build a support team over a number of years. He told the delegates that it was better to have a good vacancy than a bad appointment.

Olive Loughnane (IRL) – Loughnane, a silver medallist in the 20km walk at the 2009 World Championships and a four-time Olympian, gave an in-depth interview reflecting on the role of coaching in her career.

Marko Kivimaki (FIN)Kivimaki, the 2012 Finnish Olympic Race Walk Coach, gave a keynote address reflecting on his work at the IAAF Training Centre in Kuortane with relation to development programmes moving athletes to Junior Team Finland. Kivimaki highlighted the knowledge base and support that underpins quality training and factors successful progression. He provided detailed examples of monitoring performance with sport science support, such as KIHU, the Finnish Research Institute for Olympic Sports.

Brian Hanley (IRL) – Hanley, a biomechanist in the Carnegie Faculty at Leeds Metropolitan University, led a workshop on injuries in race walking. He focused on the two most common injury sites which, based on data collected from 50 athletes at the 2012 World Race Walking Cup, are the shin and hamstrings. He also addressed the conference on how race walk judging effects biomechanics, discussing particularly how IAAF Rule 230 gives rise to event specific conditioning needs.