World Under 20's Wrap: Phil Alchin: A Coaches Perspective
I had the pleasure of touring with the Australian under 20 team as personal coach of Grace Brennan who competed in the long jump and the 4 x 100m relay.
We started our tour in Pajulahti which is 2 hours by bus from Helsinki and is the official base of the Finnish Paralympic team. There were five other personal coaches who travelled with their athletes to the camp. Team management and the Australian team coaches were very inclusive and made us feel part of the team.
The training environment in Pajulahti was first class and included a full 400m outdoor track, a 300m indoor track, two gyms and a pool. The facilities and living arrangements provided the team with the perfect environment to prepare for the World Championships without disruption for nine days. This was particularly important for Grace who had been recovering from a hamstring injury prior to leaving Australia. The medical support the athletes had was also excellent with a doctor, three physiotherapists and three masseuses available whenever needed.
Grace competed in one of the Finnish competitions during the period we were in camp which gave us a good opportunity to work out what we needed to fine tune for the remainder of the camp.
The team moved to Tampere on the Thursday before the competition the following week. Although personal coaches did not stay with the team we all had full access to our athletes and we were able to get in some quality sessions before the World Championships started.
The camp at Pajulahti and lead in at Tampere provided athletes with the absolute best opportunity to perform in competition and Athletics Australia did an outstanding job in planning and organising this.
Grace competed in the qualifying round of the long jump on Day 3 of the competition and just missed out on making the final. This was a gallant effort given the disrupted preparation in Australia before she left with the team. To her credit Grace also anchored the relay team the following day who qualified for the final.
For me, not only was I able to support Grace in the final stages of her preparation for the Championships, it was a great opportunity to network with other coaches on the tour and exchange information as well as providing further experience in coaching an athlete to prepare for a major Championships.
I would like to thank the Australian team coaches, in particular Nicole Boegman-Stewart, for the inclusive approach to the personal coaches on the tour, all benefitting the athletes in the team.