23rd March 2010

Junior Relay Squad


23 March 2010

Olympic medallists Jason Gardener and Tasha Danvers played a motivating role in Sunday’s UKA Junior Relay Programme at Lee Valley (21 March).

The pair, who will take part in the traditional season opener in Loughborough on 23 May and serve as honorary captains for the men’s and women’s teams, talked to the junior athletes, coaches and parents in attendance prior to the training session getting underway.

The day – which is the culmination of a series of winter group sessions – was led by UKA Development Coaches (sprints) Jared Deacon and Michael Afilaka with the support of Gardener and Danvers, and was attended by 24 athletes targeting this summer’s IAAF World Junior Championships.

“Skill-wise we were expecting quite a lot of the athletes,” explained Deacon. “We made sure the athletes understood that selection decisions would be made off the back of the day. We wanted then to run quickly and we wanted the changeovers to be quality. The athletes responded really well and it was a high quality practice.”

Gardener, who won Olympic gold in the 4 x 100m relay in Athens (2004), started his international career at the World Junior Championships in Lisbon (1994) where he won 4 x 100m gold and finished runner-up in the 100m and knows what it takes to progress to the highest level of competition: “It was great to work with the Great Britain Junior Relay Squads at Lee Valley Athletics Centre, and share the experiences of how we prepared for Olympic success when we won gold at the Athens Olympic Games in the 4x100m relay,” he said. “ It is a tough and challenging journey to the top of the Olympic rostrum and the UKA performance programmes are strategically developed to enable talented young athletes a smoother pathway to World Class Performance.  Get- togethers like these are so important and the feedback I received from the athletes, parents and their coaches was excellent. I look forward to working with the team as a honorary captain in the Loughborough International.”

Steve Fudge, UKA Apprentice Coach for Sprints/Hurdles, filmed the practice which enabled the athletes to watch back their training footage over the lunch period and gain instant feedback from Gardener and Danvers and from their coaches.

“I thought it was a really good day,” said Great Britain & Northern Ireland representative Emily Diamond, 200m finalist in the 2009 European Junior Championships and a UKA Futures programme athlete. “It was really motivational having Jason and Tasha there to talk to us. They helped us out and suggested ways to improve, which was really valuable. Although we get a lot of great input and support from our coaches it was really great to get their perspectives as former athletes. “