Podcast: Coaching Voices with Gordon Adams

Former national athletics coach Gordon Adams is the guest for the final part of the first series of England Athletics’ Coaching Voices Podcast.

He initially competed as a high jumper in the 1950s using the straddle and western roll techniques, before shifting to the long and triple jump. Gordon still holds Watford Harriers’ record in the latter event, with a jump of 13.90m in 1967, but his move into coaching was accelerated by an ankle injury picked up while playing football.

Among his career highlights is working with the silver-medal winning men’s 4x400m relay quartet at the 1984 Olympic Games.

In this episode, he chats to former coaching colleague Tom McNab about how their profession has developed over the last six decades, with formal training for coaches being introduced in the 1970s.

“Athletics was the first sport that initiated a programme-made coach education syllabus,” says Gordon.

The fact that the sport was ahead of the game meant that a number of rogue inquiries about coaches were fielded.

“Somebody seriously thought I was part of a coach (transport) firm”, he laughs. “Then I had the greyhound racing people ringing me up asking about fitness for dogs, which I knew nothing about of course!”

Sticking to track and field, his career went from strength to strength: “As director of junior development, I worked with the British relay team one weekend and they broke the British junior record the next, more the fruit of my own ignorance but it was great,” he jokes.

In terms of improving standards, Gordon is calling for coaches to give more emphasis on competition. “In pre-schools, it’s athletics activities rather than athletics,” he says. “The competitive side isn’t emphasised enough.

“I would like to see more opportunities given to up-and-coming coaches to work with athletes of talent.”

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