Podcast: Coaching Voices with Lorna Boothe

Lorna Boothe is a respected coach and administrator who competed at two Olympic Games and won the 1978 Commonwealth Games 100m hurdles title as an athlete. Since then, she has been involved in many areas of the sport, having been a team manager for British Athletics for nine years including at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, and a coach at multiple major championships.

In this episode of England Athletics' Coaching Voices podcast series, she talks to Tom McNab about her transition from the track to the boardroom, competition formats, and the importance of high-quality training for coaches.

Lorna was fortunate to have former world high jump record holder and Olympic medallist Dorothy Tyler as a PE teacher at school, as well as England netball player Jackie Fidgen.

"Dorothy took me for long jump and other bits and pieces and I had Jackie on the other side who took me to all of the meetings, entered me for everything and introduced me to athletics," says Lorna, who joined Mitcham Athletic Club in South London at the age of eleven.

"I was the only black child in the club," she recalls. "It was a very community-inclusive club, they looked after everybody."

"What inspired me was I had lots of older athletes around me, they trained with the club," she remembers. "Nowadays, very few of the elite athletes train or even go and compete for their clubs."

It was while being coached by McNab himself that Lorna began to take athletics more seriously.

"I changed my diet, my whole outlook changed. I stopped partying, everything changed because my focus was to go out there and be the best."

Lorna Boothe

But there was still time for her training group to have fun - and at times - play practical jokes on their coach including filling his bed with shaving foam after he had put the squad through a tough session in France.

Lorna was drawn into coaching when her son, Tremayne Gilling, took up athletics and says one key aspect of her approach is to make sure that young athletes are students of their sport and know its history.

But coaching is also more than just athletics:

"It's helping that person's self-confidence. It helps people in life just to understand themselves," Lorna believes.

On the way coaching in athletics is changing regarding more use of sports science, she says: "It's really relevant, however not everybody has access to all of the different apparatus and scientific equipment. It's mainly governing bodies that will have them.

"People need to learn the people that they're coaching...their environments and their events...rather than just using science, books and being online," she adds. "It's important to have face-to-face experience."


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