What sports were you involved in as a kid?
As a child I played football and cricket and was a member of the Coventry Swimming Club before I became an athlete.
Did you choose your sport or did your parents choose it for you?
I chose running because I made the school cross country team at age 11 or 12 and loved it.
Were your parents actively supportive of you doing the sport?
Both my parents were very supportive but my dad in particular was heavily involved from day one.
When did you realise that you wanted to make a career in sport?
For most of my career I was an amateur athlete but took it very seriously from age 16 when John Anderson became my coach. I knew from an early age I wanted to work in sport so trained to be a PE teacher.
Do you feel kids should specialise in sport or try many different sporting activities?
Ideally children should try lots of sports before specialising. I worry that some sports encourage specialisation at a very early age and many youngsters either loose interest or are rejected by professional academies.
Do you feel parents can become too involved in their child’s training?
Parents can be wonderfully supportive to children as long as they are not overly ambitious too early on. If a child or a young athlete has a coach it is frustrating to witness some (very few) parents interfering with the coach athlete relationship. Parents are a crucial part of a young sportspersons career and can do wonderful things to support their child but have to consider what really is in the athletes best interest long term.
Does British Athletics/England Athletics prepare Coach’s for interacting with Parents?
Hopefully coaching course do discuss the many relationships in sport. Coach athlete is obviously crucial but so is coach and parent. Probably more time should be spent discussing this relationship. Many coaches are also parents which should help.
Do you feel there is enough time given to sport in Schools?
Schools should spend more time encouraging children to be physically active in addition to formal physical education.
Do you think Sport should be competitive at school at all ages?
Young people can enjoy competition without experiencing damaging failure. Creative PE teachers can include competition from an early age and emphasise competing against themselves and with children of similar ability.
Did your children do sport because you and your wife did?
I think that Paul and Lucy developed an interest in sport and physical activity at an early age and hopefully our interest as parents was helpful to this.
Is it true that it’s harder to watch from the side of the track than for the Athlete actually competing?
I always hate watching people who I have an emotional attachment to! It was far easier being a competitor myself!
What’s the most important characteristic a successful Athlete should have?
Many characteristics are needed but perseverance is possibly the most significant.
Do you have a sporting Mantra?
My sporting mantra would be to embrace and enjoy the challenge of being the best you can be.