Podcast: Coaching Voices with international jumps coach Frank Attoh

In conversation with hosts Tom McNab and Alex Seftel, Frank - who was a keen footballer, table tennis and basketball player in his youth - reminisces about getting into triple jump as a teenager. 

"On my second attempt, I broke the school record and that was the beginning. I just fell in love with athletics because there was immediate achievement."

What followed was a chance to compete at English Schools, producing a fond memory of when he had to multitask between the triple jump and the track.

"I took my last jump and then ran to the relay," Frank recalls. "I think we got first in the relay and then my school teacher said 'do you realise you came third in the triple jump?' I had no idea!"

He later found motivation harder to come by after picking up injuries and training alone in the dark at Copthall (now called StoneX Stadium). "I started to look at coaching and putting back something that I'd gained from the sport. It was fantastic being able to give some experience and see the mistakes that I made. I went forward and corrected that with other athletes."

The Shaftesbury Barnet Harrier also looks back on the 1968 Olympic Games Black Power salute, a famous moment when those standing on the podium in Mexico City raised their fists in an act of racial protest.

"We need to speak about what they did because it was just incredible that they actually had the guts to demonstrate," believes Frank. "It cost them afterwards that they couldn't compete in any more Olympics."

On the subject of diversity and equality in athletics today, he asserts:

"We've still got a lot of work to do. But it's a fairer sport than if I was in football or rugby."

His comments come at the time of a report from the Black Footballers Partnership - which speaks on behalf of current and former players - saying there has been 'no real change'" in the number of black ex-players hired in managerial or executive roles in professional football, with the figure standing at 57 out of 1,304 positions in England and Wales.

"I think we're trying but there's still a long way to go," adds Frank, who believes fairness in athletics has been helped by the objectivity that comes with measurements being used to decide the best.

The episode ends with a tribute to close friend Lloyd Cowan, with Frank co-running a bursary scheme in his memory alongside former athlete Christine Ohuruogu and others, following Lloyd's death in 2021.

"He would give time to any coach, any athlete that needed it. He was just an immense person to have around."


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Photo of Frank Attoh with Greg Rutherford (Gothenburg 2006) by Mark Shearman