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Strabane athletics coach steers British athletics to world gold

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Strabane athletics coach steers British athletics to world gold thumbnailStrabane athletics coach Stephen Maguire.

STRABANE athletics coach, Stephen Maguire, steered the Great Britain relay team to a stunning 4 x 100m gold at the World Championships in London on Saturday.

This was a first for the GB team.

Appointed as Head of Power in 2014, Stephen's task was to oversee British athletics sprint, hurdles and relay programmes. As well as the success on Saturday, Sunday saw the GB ladies pick up silver in the women's 4x400m and bronze in the men's.

The 53-year-old native of Strabane is no stranger to success. He coached Ireland's Paralympics star Jason Smyth for many years, before taking up a role with Scottish athletics as director of coaching in 2012.

Maguire's former boss, Scottish athletics chief executive Nigel Holl, praised his "excellent impact".

"His influence in the two years leading in towards the Commonwealth Games has been significant," he said.

"That has been not only at the elite performance end of things but further in helping integrate and support our development plans and programmes."

It has been a remarkable career for a man whose talents were acknowledged in 2006, when he was named Northern Ireland's sports coach of the year.

Speaking on Radio Foyle this week Stephen said he had been coaching for a long time.

"I moved on to Scotland for a few years and then I was approached to come down and head up the sprints programme in Loughborough for British athletics.

 

"Something like that, you can't turn down. I firmly believe that within British athletics we have the potential to be the best sprints nation in the world and that's the goal."

Britain's men had looked smooth in qualification but not many predicted they were capable of an upset against the Americans. Stephen said he was not surprised.

"I thought it was going to be close but it's like any competition - you go in hoping to win it," he explained.

"We thought if we could get out fast and put the others under a little bit of pressure it could happen, and thankfully it did.

"You've always got the USA and Jamaica - the sprint kings of the world - but we were quietly confident."

And now Stephen feels Britain's sprinting success leaves him with satisfaction of a different kind to that with sprinter Jason Smyth.

"The two of us worked extremely hard and he is a tremendous athlete," he said.

"This is different, it's more of a team and it's trying to pull a lot of individual athletes with individual aspirations into a team environment.

"Over the last two nights it all came together. The 4x100m is now one of the fastest teams ever in the world, but the girls 4x100m team and the two 4x400m teams did their business as well.

"I loved the time with Jason but this is good as well."

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