Olympic champion Goodhew on the coach who changed his life

·4-min read
Goodhew won gold at the 1980 Olympic Games having been introduced to swimming by his P.E teacher. Credit: UK Coaching.
Goodhew won gold at the 1980 Olympic Games having been introduced to swimming by his P.E teacher. Credit: UK Coaching.

For Olympic champion Duncan Goodhew, it was his first coach who took him from a child ‘drowning’ in a classroom to a global star in the pool, writes Sportsbeat's Milly McEvoy.

Goodhew, 65, won swimming gold and bronze at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow but admits it would have been impossible without his school PE teacher.

And the three-time Commonwealth Games medalist is now returning the favour and supporting UK Coaching’s fresh recruitment drive and #Born2Coach initiative, encouraging people back into coaching and supporting others being active after the pandemic.

The new campaign will see UK Coaching engage with seven of the nation’s leading sports over the next ten years to recruit more coaches and ensure the nation is fully supported to become more active, more often.

And Goodhew said: “They [coaches] made all the difference in my life. “My first coach Tony Roberts, was a PE teacher, they took me straight into the pool, into a club, and the rest was history.

“Given that I was literally drowning in the back of the classroom, dyslexic, really struggling at school, he threw the life preserver to me that changed my life.

“He made me feel as if I was important. He made me feel I had something to work for that I could be good at. I learned, I developed, I improved. He gave me a way of improving myself that I could measure and understand.”

Latest Sport England data showed a decline of more than 3.1 million people giving up their time to lead activity sessions.

And to combat the alarming drop, UK Coaching is announcing a nationwide drive to expand the coaching workforce to mark the start of UK Coaching Week, the annual national awareness campaign which empowers athletes, coaches and the public to celebrate great coaching.

The organisation are joining forces with several major governing bodies including the England and Wales Cricket Board, England Boxing, British Gymnastics and Swim England as part of the innovative initiative.

UK Coaching will support those governing bodies to significantly boost the coaching workforce by inspiring people to become coaches and empowering current coaches to enhance their abilities.

Goodhew added: “People make all the difference in your life and lucky people find people who can believe in them, who can drive them forward.

“When you do that, you feel good about yourself, so you work harder, you do more and that's what this campaign is all about is everybody's born to coach, anybody can coach.

“We'd like to get more people into coaching because you get this great feeling, you're learning you’re developing, and you're improving other people. It's a really great thing to be involved in.”

Mark Gannon, UK Coaching CEO, explained the thinking behind the initiative, adding: “We now know, because of Covid, that the nation needs to be healthier and more active than ever before.
“A lot of facilities and particularly the coaches that make that happen, have been impacted by Covid.

“What we're doing now is, as part of UK Coaching Week where we celebrate coaching and the impact the coaches have on their participants, we're trying to encourage people to come back to coaching or to take coaching up.

“If you're a people person, you would make a great coach. What we're trying to do is hook up with the main sports and say, ‘look, if you've got a skillset or if you'd like to develop your skillset, which won't just help you as a coach but help you in your work your life, why not come along and give it a go?’”

To find out more about how you can get into coaching, visit www.ukcoaching.org/born2coach.

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