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european sprints and hurdles conference

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European Sprints and Hurdles Conference

12 November 2012

The University of Warwick welcomed nearly 250 delegates from 16 different countries to the second edition of the European Sprints and Hurdles Conference on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 November. Some of the greatest minds in sprint coaching spoke at the conference, which was hosted by UK Athletics and England Athletics and forms part of the European Athletics Coaching Summit Series.

Loren Seagrave, the opening keynote speaker, was in no doubt about the value of the conference and spoke in glowing terms about what he regards as “the best coach education programme in the world.”

He began by explaining his coaching philosophy with the bold statement that “if it’s not broken, break it. Then re-engineer the athlete.” He spoke about planning with reference to periodisation and preparing for the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow by using specific examples from athletics as well as other sports such as American Football and powerlifting.

Seagrave, a world renowned sprints coach who has worked with athletes at every level, including Olympic champions Pauline Davis and Angelo Taylor, as well as collegiate athletes and NFL players, also gave presentations about fault correction for advanced hurdlers and acceleration and starting for beginner and intermediate sprinters.

Seagrave was followed by the first of three presentations from American coach Tom Tellez, who began by talking generally about sprinting and his background in coaching and suggested that “It’s not what you do coach, it’s what you don’t coach that makes the difference.” He then focused on training for hurdles, addressing the issue of the approach to the first hurdle. He followed this by speaking about the training of sprint legend Carl Lewis, who he coached to nine Olympic gold medals, before closing the conference on the Sunday evening with a final address about his lifetime in coaching.

Tellez, who has also coached the likes of Olympic 200m champion Joe DeLoach and former 100m world record holder Leroy Burrell, spoke of the importance of coach education.

He said: “I hope that the material I presented is valuable and helps them to become better coaches. Coach education is crucial, especially in the world right now; we are not producing coaches that are of a young age, we have got to start producing coaches that are interested in coaching and get them to know about biomechanics.”

Wigert Thunnissen, the Dutchman who coached the Netherlands to a bronze medal in the men’s 4x100m at the 2003 World Championships and recently guided the women’s sprint relay team to a new national record of 42.45 seconds, spoke with specific reference to the challenges of coaching the 4x100m relay and also started the proceedings on Sunday by speaking more generally about the Dutch approach to relays.

Over the course of the two days there was also a presentation from Michel Afilaka, who spoke about training philosophy, progression and development with direct reference to British sprint sensation Adam Gemili, who trains under Afilaka’s tutelage. Frenchman Pierre-Jean Vazel talked about the history of sprint training methods whilst James Hillier spoke about constructing training programmes for developing hurdlers.

There was also a dinner on the Saturday evening to provide coaches with a networking opportunity and chaired discussions on the Sunday afternoon to offer delegates the chance to engage in discussions with other coaches as well as the six presenters.

Richard Wheater, Head of Coaching for England Athletics and UKA’S Event Development Manager, was pleased with the both the number of delegates in attendance and the value of the content on offer from some of the biggest names in sprint coaching.

Wheater said: “We have a huge offering in terms of coaching development across the country and the events that we run like this one are the pinnacle. This is one of the few opportunities that we have to focus on slightly more elite issues because a lot of things are targeted at coaches that work with younger athletes. Here we could get into some of the issues that affect Olympic and world level athletes and give a huge opportunity to hear speakers from abroad which we don’t get too often. This was also a great chance for coaches to get together to talk which is very important.”

Content from the European Sprints and Hurdles Conference will be available to view at: http://coaching.uka.org.uk/