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UK Athletics

Darrell Maynard wins Coach of the Year Accolade

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Athlete turned coach Darrell Maynard has received one of the top honours at the annual Sports Council for Wales Coach of the Year awards.


Maynard, whose training group includes both able-bodied and disability athletes, was presented with the Volunteer Coach of the Year – Performance award at a ceremony in Cardiff yesterday.


He received his award from Alan Pugh, Minister for Culture, Welsh Language and Sport in the Welsh Assembly Government.


Maynard, whose training group is based at UWIC in Cardiff, said he was delighted by the award.


“There are a lot of volunteer coaches who do a lot of work in their own time, and this is recognition of their efforts,” said Maynard, who also still runs in masters events.


“I’ve got a good team set-up around me. That includes sports science support, and the athletes are also part of that team.


“I’ve got a good bunch of athletes and they all help each other,” he added. “We all work together as a team to get on the right track.


“I enjoy it all the time,” he enthused.


The award was fitting recognition for a tremendous year packed full of impressive achievements by Maynard’s athletes.


Maynard has helped some of Britain’s brightest young athletes – including Richard Hill, David Greene and Gareth Warburton - to progress dramatically in their fields.


Hill topped the British 800m rankings in 2006, producing a personal best of 1:45.10 at the British Milers’ Club Grand Prix in Watford in June. He also won the 800m at the Scottish Indoor Championships and at the British University Championships, finished fourth at the AAAs and represented the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team at the European Championships in Gothenburg.


Greene built on his successes in 2005 – which culminated with a silver medal at the European Under-20 Championships – with another successful season in 2006.  His 2006 campaign started with victory in the 400m at the Scottish Indoor Championships in Glasgow. He was added to Wales’ 4x400m relay quartet for the Melbourne 2006, but withdrawal meant that the team did not run. He was runner-up in the 400m hurdles at the AAAs Championships in 50 seconds dead and made the GB team for the senior European Championships in Gothenburg, producing a 50.66 in the 400m hurdles heats.


Warburton’s season includes seventh spot in the 400m at the AAAs and representing Wales over 400m at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.


The disability athletes in Maynard’s training group have been just as impressive in 2006. Blind athlete Tracey Hinton battled her way back from injury to return to her best, capturing a brace of medals at the International Paralympic Committee Athletics World Championships in Assen, the Netherlands, in September.


Hinton has represented Great Britain at the last four Paralympic Games, but had almost two years out of competition with an Achilles injury. She returned to action in impressive style winning the T11 400m at the 2006 Paralympic World Cup in Manchester.


Although a T11 totally blind athlete, Tracey often has to compete in T12 events against athletes with an element of sight at major international championships, which sometimes only feature T11 sprints on their programme.


Hinton competed in the T12 400m and 800m at the World Championships, winning silver over the longer distance and then bronze over 400m. As well as being a member of the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland coaching team in Assen, Maynard showed some of his own pace by acting as Hinton’s guide runner over 400m.


Maynard had two other athletes in action in Assen – John McFall and Lloyd Upsdell. McFall, a 25-year-old sprinter who had his right leg amputated above the knee following a motorcycle accident, showed his increasing maturity at international level by winning a silver medal in the T42 100m and a bronze in the T42 200m. He had to hold his nerve in the 100m final - a race that saw four false starts and three disqualifications.


Upsdell, meanwhile, just missed out on the medals, finishing fourth in the T35 100m.


Maynard, who was team coach for Wales’ disability athletes at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, said it’s been such a good year it’s been difficult to pick a highlight.


But with the Beijing 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games just around the corner, he’s expecting another busy year in 2007.


“Next year is the building block for 2008, so if people can get the times they need it will ease the pressure of preparing for Beijing,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of work to do.”