Monday, 20 September 2010

Road to Delhi: The Challenge of Continuous Improvement...

Soaked through to the skin at my last golf match of the regular season which leaves a bit of time for athletics planning and blogging.

Review training schedules, check dates/ times- make a list!! Less than a week until we leave, exciting times, but also apprehension. I have been to the last two games with Team NI, packed with our best, and my goodness how tough it is on the dancefloor in the stadium. All throughout the qualifying period this was at the forefront of my mind. Fortunately our ten do not have to look too far for inspiration as our last medallist is supporting them throughout the qualifying period.

It’s been an interesting year in terms of planning as a personal coach. Normally its Ballyclare in Welly Boots in October, instead we’re in India trying to run PB’s! It’s been a challenge for periodising the year, and I have learned an awful lot about myself as a coach throughout the year. Will add more fuel to the fire for my annual/ quadrennial planning lectures! ‘Coaching is a process of gathering scars’. Next year’s challenge is a more normative one- Asia in august.

With an average age of 21.4 the team is definitely going to be around again for Glasgow 2014, which can only be progress for the sport. I have worked with the two experienced members of the team throughout the year who have been great in terms of supporting the younger athletes and I’m sure James and Kelly will continue to mentor and support the younger members on camp, before getting down to the business on getting on the start lists for the middle distance finals. Let’s hope lots of 15/16 year olds watching on tv in NI are inspired to make the next team.

Ciara, Amy and Christine have already brought home plenty of medals from major age group competitions so that should stand them in good stead for this new task. Having a decathlete in the squad is great in terms of drama and excitement. I worked with Louise Hazel at the 2005 Europeans and one minute you’re smashing a PB in the hurdles and the next you’re facing a pressure last jump in the long jump to stay alive. It’s like a mini soap opera.

For those of you that were unfortunate enough to see me in a vest and shorts you’ll know how much I love the 4x400m. My fondest moments in athletics as an athlete came in relays, and most of my friends were members of those teams either for Irish Universities, Northern Ireland or my club City of Lisburn. There is a nucleus of a top class squad here that if we add to it can become one of our strongest events at the next two games in 2014 and 2018. I’m looking forward to watching the team unit develop on camp and at the end of the athletics programme for some big PB splits as a fantastic end to the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

I’m grateful to get the opportunity to support the squad over the next three weeks. Thanks to Athletics NI for the foresight in providing a preparation camp in Portugal. The weather has turned recently and as you can see from Stephens blog it’s difficult to get quality work in. Over the last 17 years I have travelled to camps/ golf holidays in Portugal many times. It’s a great country and blessed with excellent athletics facilities (and golf courses!)along the Algarve.

Despite mass speculation Athens was ready, Beijing was excellent and New Dehli looks prepared for the event. I remember the dignatories touring Melbourne village and an assistant making notes. Having a track in the village is just luxury, and makes our job so much easier. (Jackie, James and Kelly will remember me driving the team bus the wrong way up the road in Manchester looking for the training track!) The recent photos of the village facilities look like they did in Manchester and Melbourne and the Stadium looks spectacular.

A couple of weeks hard work and it’s time to shine. Keep the messages of support coming through!

David Reid
Assistant Team Coach, Delhi 2010

Also launched is the new NI Commonwealth Games Council website which is currently being developed. A sneak preview is available to view at- . Over the coming days it will provide information relating to athletes, venues, competition schedules etc. You will also be able to keep up to date with the latest news by joining us on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.

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