After a busy summer of athletics action, coaches and athletes over the country from grassroots to elite will be turning their attention to winter training and building the vital foundations for the upcoming cross country, road, mountain and track and field seasons.
Ahead of the winter months and welcoming the new cohort of talent pathway athletes, we caught up with two new members of the England Athletics talent team: Hayley Hemmings, (National Endurance Manager) and Matt Kendrick (Para Athletics Manager). The pair told us about their journey into the sport and what they are looking forward to in the next 12 months.
Getting to know Hayley and Matt
You may notice that Hayley Hemmings is no stranger to England Athletics and has in fact spoken to us earlier this year about her wealth of coaching and teaching experience. In addition Hayley has supported international junior teams, most recently the European under 20s in Jerusalem and the Welsh International. But what made Hayley want to take the jump from teaching?
“I decided to move from education to athletics because I have a real passion for the sport and the development of athletes. Although stepping away from formal teaching and education, I am still being educated myself as I learn my new role and educate the athletes which I work with. As a teacher I’ve learned lots of different skills which I can bring into my coaching at England Athletics. I’m good at communicating and can build a good rapport with young adults which helps me to support their development as they move through the ranks.”
Unlike Hayley, Matt has come through a different sporting route.
“I have been working in para sport for the last 15 years in a variety of roles, but most recently as National Para Pathway Manager for Swim Wales and as National Talent Manager at Boccia England before that."
"I have a passion for para sport and am still an active international level coach and coach educator for Boccia in my free time. In the last 4 months since joining England Athletics, I have really enjoyed the transition into para-athletics and see huge potential for growth in para-athletics in England.”
Looking ahead to the next 12 months
Being new into the sport of athletics, Matt has certainly hit the ground running with his first taste of an international championships over the summer, an experience which has only made him more excited for the next 12 months.
“It was fantastic to be a part of the successful team at the World Para Athletics Championships in Paris as Team Manager for UKA this summer."
"Having the opportunity to work with the athletes and staff on the team has helped to shape my plans for developing the talent pathway in England. With the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games less than a year away it is a really exciting time for para sport and I hope to see significant growth in para athletics nationally in terms of participation, performance and opportunity.”
“This year, our talent programme has equivalent consideration standards for para-athletes so selection for our talent programme selections can be done in an equitable way where disabled and non-disabled athletes are considered against their relevant performance standards whether on an Olympic or Paralympic pathway.”
“We are also launching a new squad, the England Athletics National Para Academy, which will provide a para specific development environment targeting para-athletes on our pathway as well as a wider cohort of athletes showing positive signs of performance progression. I see this as a big opportunity to engage with and develop coaches so that we can build confidence and familiarity around coaching para-athletes regardless of impairment.”
Alongside colleague Tom Craggs who manages the elite side of road racing, Hayley will be focusing on the track endurance events.
“On track I am really excited to develop the world of endurance - from our affiliated clubs to the Youth Talent Pathway all the way up to Commonwealth Games level - as the main point of contact between coaches, athletes, talent hubs and universities."
“With the Olympics and Paralympics on the horizon, the next 12 months is set to be action-packed. We have our brand-new cohort of Youth Talent Pathway athletes which we will welcome in October, as well as warm weather training ahead of the start of the indoor season in January.
"I am really looking forward to integrating both para and non-para-athletes into our talent pathways and competition system and ensure that we are really supporting inclusion and the best experience for all athletes.”
See the full list of our new cohort of Youth Talent Programme athletes for 2023/4. The junior, senior and para pathway athletes will be announced in the coming weeks.