25th November 2021


Role title: International Coach is how I would describe myself.

What is your athletics background?

Like many I went to my local athletics club at the age of 9. I really wanted to be a sprinter, but they were more of a road running club – so they watched me sprint, but being a mainly road running club they sent me straight out for a two mile run. As such I became a middle distance runner, I went on to focus on 800m and had a fair bit of success first at Scottish schools, then I was the World Schools Champion and made GB Junior and Under 23 teams.

How did you get into coaching?  

The coach who looked after me right up until the age of 18, Kenny McVey, was a Govan shipyard worker by trade. Like so many in our sport he was volunteer who came to the sport late when his son took up athletics. A family man with commitments away from the track, he would oversee my training three times a week. But I was really interested in getting the knowledge around coaching, so I decided as early as 15 years old I would start attending the coaching courses and seminars so that I could supplement my own training with those extra bits.

When I went to University at Loughborough I was coached by George Gandy which was a big influence. And I had the opportunity to go away and train at altitude with most of the top distance runners in the UK at that time, so from a young age I was able to observe close up what was involved in being a top athlete. There was also great opportunities to attend national squad and training weekends organised by the likes of Norman Poole, Dave Newnham and others so again I was provided with the opportunity to expand my knowledge on various aspects of the sport and coaching. In the years since I left Loughborough I spent a bit of time with John Montgomery, Craig Winrow, and Tommy Boyle. With all these experiences I have obviously learned and it is reflected in my coaching you see today.

What’s your coaching philosophy?

First of all, I like to make sure whatever I do, I like it to be balanced across speed, endurance and strength & conditioning.

But ultimately, I like to make sure there is focus and attention to detail, getting the most out of every session. Everything I coach has a purpose to the final product, and my approach or philosophy is that if it is part of the session then it has a reason.

What excites you about your job?

Fundamentally I love what I do. And its quite interesting when someone says to me ‘you should go for this job or this post’ and I just say ‘but I’m already doing exactly what I want to do!’ When you can make a living out of something you love to do, well that’s a great thing for anyone to be able to say.

I’m fortunate I work with athletes who are both good athletes and nice people, so having people you like being around and working with makes for good set up.

Don’t get me wrong, I also still have a competitor within in me, so I love to see the athletes do well and win things. But at the same time, its not only the winning that brings satisfaction. Seeing an athlete improve can in itself be rewarding. And indeed not everyone will be major champs medallist. Seeing athletes enjoy themselves, make personal achievements, and indeed develop as people away from the track is also very rewarding.

What’s your biggest achievement or most memorable moment as a coach?

Obviously coaching Laura to Silver in Tokyo is a huge achievement, not just the medal she won but how she was the first Scot since 1988 to medal. It means a lot knowing how hard athletes work and what went into it. But medals aside, sometimes the really memorable moment is a breakthrough performance or a significant PB for an athlete.

What are some of your aspirations for 2022 onward?

2022 will be a very exciting year and looking at next summer and knowing Paris is but two years on from then makes it seem like it will come round very quickly. With the World Championships, Commonwealth Games and European Championships there is a lot for the athletes to enjoy and I’m looking forward to seeing others start to break through.

I had asked athletes if they wanted a slightly easier year, I’m keen they enjoy it – but they enjoy racing so much they didn’t want to hear of it, so as long as they are enjoying it and competing is what makes them happy then there is a lot we can aim at in 2022.