Mark English has confirmed that Nic Bideau will be his new coach as well as his agent next season.
European bronze medallist English was named — as expected — athlete of the year at the National Athletics Awards yesterday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Santry, and revealed the Australian’s increased role.
“I’m delighted to confirm Nic as my coach,” said English, following the awards where he also won Track & Field athlete of the year and was part of the Team Performance of the year as a member of the men’s 4x400m record-breaking team.
Bideau has been representing the UCD student as his race agent and will now take up the reins as his coach. English went into the 2014 track season having parted ways with previous coach Teresa McDaid and still delivered a fine performance in winning bronze over 800m at the European Track and Field Championships in Zurich last August.
“Nic has very good knowledge and he applies it well to his different athletes,” continued English on his link-up with the renowned Australian coach, who is married to Sonia O’Sullivan.
“He has a great group in Australia and I’m looking forward to working with him into the future.”
English, who has his Christmas medical exams in UCD next week, acknowledged the spotlight is on him as one of Ireland’s leading athletes on the road to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.
“You have to acknowledge that pressure is there,” reflected the 21-year-old who is planning a warm weather training trip to South Africa in January. “I have my own internal goals and stepping stones in the build-up to Rio. It can’t be the be all and end all. I’ve got the European Indoor Championships (in Prague in March) and I really want to put in a good performance in Beijing (at the world championships) next summer.
“It’s been great to get where I have been so far and the people who have stood by me. I medalled in the Europeans but it was six championships since my last medal. ”
It was a long process for Roisin McGettigan-Dumas to get her European indoor bronze medal from Turin in 2009 due to a doping violation by Russian Anna Alminova, and she got a warm reception from the large crowd in attendance at the luncheon.
“It’s a bit surreal but really special to share this with family and friends,” said McGettigan-Dumas.
“I always had positive memories from the day because I ran such a good tactical race. I was so happy with my performance. Obviously winning a medal is a bigger deal for the public and my family and friends.”
The Wicklow woman, based in Rhode Island, believes it is time to introduce lifetime bans to try and eradicate the negative news stories with returning drug cheats on to the competitive stage.
“I think there should be lifetime bans. I think if you are a doctor or a banker and you cheat, you can’t go back into that line of work. It should be the same with the track. There’s too many negative drugs stories and this would help remove that. I do think the sport is getting cleaner.”
The biggest of applause of the day was reserved for athletics legend Phil Conway, who received the Lifetime Achievement award for his various roles in Irish Athletics as an athlete, coach, mentor, statistician, volunteer and organiser. Conway was a PE teacher in Belvedere College for over 30 years, renowned for his catchphrases, one of which was: “If you believe you can achieve.”
ATHLETICS IRELAND: AWARDS
Athlete of the Year: Mark English (UCD AC).
Hall of Fame: Frank Murphy (Clonliffe Harriers AC).
Lifetime Achievement: Phil Conway (Crusaders AC).
Track and Field Athlete of the Year: Mark English (UCD AC).
Endurance Athlete of the Year: Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC).
Junior Athlete of the Year: Karl Griffin (UCD AC).
Emerging Athlete of the Year: Christine McMahon (Ballymena and Antrim AC).
Team Performance of the Year: Irish Men’s 4x400m.
Team Inspirational Performance of the Year: Thomas Barr (Ferrybank AC).
Outstanding Official Award: Tony Ennis (Fr. Murphy’s AC).
Club of the Year: Leevale AC.
Development Club of the Year: Dunboyne AC.
Outstanding Coach Award: Michael Lane (Mullingar Harriers AC).
Mountain Runner of the Year: Sarah McCormack (Clonliffe Harriers AC).
Master Athlete of the Year: Brian Lynch.
Ultra Runner of the Year: John O’Regan (Le Cheile AC).
Male University Athlete of the Year: John Travers (Athlone IT).
Female University Athlete of the Year: Maria O’Sullivan (Trinity College Dublin).
Irish School’s Tailteann Awards (Girl): Alanna Lally (Presentation Athenry).
Irish School’s Tailteann Awards (Boy): Harry Purcell (Castleknock College).
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