Peter Warden, a two-time medallist at the 1966 Commonwealth Games and former national coach, is the guest for the latest part of England Athletics' Coaching Voices podcast series, which aims to capture the wisdom and personality of renowned coaches.
He has coached ten English Schools champions during a distinguished career which led him to be awarded with a British Empire Medal for services to athletics in 2019. At the time, he joked in an interview that he has been so engrossed in the sport, that he'll one day be buried in a long jump pit.
Peter narrowly missed out on the 1964 Olympic 400m hurdles final in Tokyo, five years after being introduced to the event by a coach at his local Bradford Airedale club called Ken Oakley. "When he suggested I try 'quarter hurdles', I'd never heard of it," he admits.
"He put some hurdles out at the right spacings, I had a couple of runs over them and entered the Yorkshire Championships as an 18-year-old and won it."
"I discovered about 10 years later I'd actually set a British under-20 record," he recalls. Of course, this was an era long before the powerof10 athletics database.
Peter qualified as a PE teacher at Loughborough early in his career but was predominantly self-taught as both an athlete and a coach. This was a time when professional coaching expertise was difficult to come by.
"I was actually coaching while I was competing," says Peter, who is now based at Preston Harriers. "I didn't look at it as coaching, I thought of it more as helping the other athletes."
"The one thing I learnt more than anything else was rest - not to just simply keep on battering away - and it's still something I'm trying to get through to athletes," he adds.
After retiring from competitive athletics in his late 20s, Peter has worked with the likes of Olympians Max Robertson and David Jenkins, coached his wife Caroline, and served as an adviser to the Hong Kong Athletics Association.
An important part of his coaching philosophy over the last six decades has been to make sure young athletes develop their own style - particularly regarding the 400m. "I know how I used to run it, but I can't tell you how to," he insists. "You've got to go out there and learn your trade."
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