Newham Athletics Network supports Ian Mahoney to Inspire A Generation
Newham coach Ian Mahoney has been dedicated to coaching athletics in the London Borough of Newham for over 5 years, assisting the Run Athletics Activator Coral Nourrice at various events, workshop attendance and sessions. Read his athletics journey here...
“I have been coaching for Newham and Essex Beagles Athletic Club for 5 years. Mainly working as assistant coach (due to health issues and as a result, I may not always be there). I was to start my coaching career, working as a mature day student at a London University but didn't materialise and that's how the Newham Athletics Network came into my life.
The Athletics Network has and will continue to provide workshops, either directly or indirectly using outside sources, ranging from athletic disciplines, Master Classes to Psychology and First Aid. Delegates can come from all walks of life, age, sex, and a range of different sports . I also took part in AthleFIT (based on a range of athletic events) with other Network members.
Many of these a provided free of charge to members of the Athletics Network and knowledge can be gained that can used in part or in whole when coaching.
There is the opportunity with the Newham Athletics Network to 'help out' running and officiating at events that are put on including Sportshall athletics for schools. (the next generation of Olympians).
The network has been especially useful to me. I have Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy and although I have very limited physical ability now, knowledge gained through the network workshops has kept me focused and allowed to use that knowledge on the athletes I train. It has got me off my backside feeling sorry for myself an enabling to give something back to my chosen sport (athletics and running in particular) that I enjoyed and helping me to help others get the same enjoyment and sense of achievement I had.
The network keeps well informed of on-going events and courses with regular meeting to discuss challenges. I haven't 'arrived' by any means - the network will give me continuing professional, personal development and evolve as a great coach.
In 1994 I was diagnosed with Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy, which is a genetic, progressive, muscle wasting and weakening neurological disorder. Currently there is no medication or cure (that could be 50-100 years away). Awareness of the condition either directory or un-directory among the medical professional will provide feedback to the scientists across the world searching for a cure. I began running in 1982, running races for both School and club. Most of my successes came at school and won a number of own school or inter-school 1500m races. I was never fast enough to win any races for the club. By 1994 I was then competing in distance races (still not as fast as I would've liked) mainly running to improve my own times than to place anywhere. Myotonic Dystrophy (medially known as Dystropica Myotonia, DM) hadn't affected me and as I had been running for 12 years, so I just carried on.
In July 1995, I caught Pneumonia, by food going down the wrong due to weakening throat a swallowing muscles. During the 11 days that I was in hospital (it took doctors 7 days to find out what was wrong with me) my parents spoke with the neurologist and asked; Can he still drive? Can still run? Can he still weight train? Can he still massage? The answer was the same for every question ‘Of course he can, What can’t he do?’ he can almost everything, it what he can do and not what he can't do that is important."
Over the next 10 years I had subtle changes with my condition, but was still driving, running, walking unaided and doing all the things an able bodied person could do.
Over last 10 years since 2003 DM has increased in its severity and as a result, I can no longer run, I'll never race again, I walk using a stick or a wheeled rolatter, sometimes use wheelchair (if I am with someone who can push me). I can still drive an unmodified car but had to tell the DVLC in 1997 that Myotonic Dystrophy could affect my driving in the future. I have to have a medical and renew Driving License every 3 years.
In 2008, I was forced to 'retire' from running. I cannot run any kind of distance and kept falling over due to muscle weakness in my legs. I now do what I wanted to do once I retired and that is to coach and help other athletes get the same enjoyment from athletics in particular running that I had. I have been on many coaching courses building my knowledge coupled with 26 years of 'first had' experience of running myself. Never stop learning and dependant how DM affects me in the future is dependent on how far up the levels I go.
In June this year I attended the Myotonic Dystrophy Support Group's Annual Conference and had my photograph taken with the Olympic Torch. At the conference, I learnt about the current search that is going on and met other people who experience the same challenges as I do, living with DM. www.myotonicdystrophysupportgroup.org is the revamped website which includes old and new information. The national co-ordinator Margaret Bowler was nominated to carry the torch for a short distance in Nottingham on its journey around the country ending in the Olympic Stadium. Margaret was chosen as she has dedicated her life to helping others and founded the support group in 1989. She is also the one that should get the credit she deserves.”
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