by Matt Carter
Coaches of Ben Ainslie were revealed as winners of the Coaching Chain Award at the UK Coaching Awards 2013 which took place at the Montcalm Hotel, Marble Arch in London last night (3 December).
(L-R) Dr Phil Slater, Cathy Foster, Sir Ben Ainslie, Jim Saltonstall MBE, John Derbyshire, David Howlett.
The Award recognises the coaches that have contributed to an athlete’s success, from firing their interest, or encouraging them in a sport, to developing their talent, to coaching them at the elite level.
The ‘Chain’ for Ainslie is Dr Phil Slater, Cathy Foster, Jim Saltonstall MBE, John Derbyshire OBE, and David Howlett. In addition, it was also recognised that other people and coaches have contributed to Ben's success.
Dr Slater and his wife Jillian encouraged Ben into racing his Optimist, the class in which he enjoyed his first taste of international competition in the World Championships.
Foster coached Ben when he moved to the Laser class. He won his first World Championship in the smaller Laser Radial in 1993, before enjoying similar success in the full rig in 1998.
Saltonstall is a key figure in the success of British sailing, establishing a Youth Racing Programme which is the envy of the world. He was Team Manager when Ben won Silver and Gold and the man Ben credits for ‘getting them on the road’.
Derbyshire is RYA Performance Director and was Ben’s coach from 1994 to 2000, during which time he took Silver in Atlanta and Gold in Sydney in the Laser Class.
Howlett supported Ben to achieve Olympic sailing history when he won his fourth straight Olympic gold at the 2012 London Games, making him the most successful sailor in Olympic history. He also helped him to secure his 10th World Championship.
John Derbyshire, RYA Racing Manger/Performance Director, commented: 'It’s great for sport that all the coaches who are involved in an athlete’s progress are recognised, because individually and within a chain of coaches they will have all made very significant contributions along the way. Awards like the ‘Coaching Chain’ which recognises a whole group of coaches and other individuals who have been involved should provide inspiration for those who work at the formative years of a young athlete's journey fostering the passion and enthusiasm it takes to succeed, it’s important for them in particular to realise what they do is massively appreciated by the coaches who work with the athletes when they reach the pinnacle of their sport.
'It is just as important for the sport, and to the athlete, to have the very best coaches operating at the grassroots level at the very beginning of an athlete’s career as it is to be a coach at the very top end of the sport. The coaching chain recognises that the right people working with athletes at the right age make the difference and we should celebrate that. I hope the Award will be an inspiration to coaches and volunteers who aspire to excel in working with their athletes, particularly to those people who work with younger athletes at the beginning of their careers, they do an extremely important and fantastic job and they should be very proud of what they do.'
David Mellor, RYA Coaching Development Manager, added: 'It’s fantastic to see that Sport Coach UK have given recognition to the coaches who have made invaluable contributions to Ben’s sailing career over the years. Ben is the most successful sailor in Olympic history and it is great to see the hard work, dedication and commitment from his coaches being recognised through the Coaching Chain Award.'
The UK Coaching Awards 2013, supported by Gillette, celebrates the role and performances of coaching and coaches at every level, from community coaches to elite coaches. Gillette’s support of the UK Coaching Awards follows its partnership with sports coach UK as part of the Gillette Great Starts’ campaign.
The campaign was introduced to celebrate coaches and inspire the next generation through the offer of grants awarded through the scheme. Gillette recognise that coaching is an essential part of the future successes of sport in the UK and, together with sports coach UK, is committed to supporting and celebrating coaching in the UK.
For more information and for the full list of winners from the visit the UK Coaching Awards 2013 website.