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UKA Coach Building A Better Coaching Environment

Focus on Futures: Annie Tagoe

Annie Tagoe has every reason to get frustrated at the endless stream of journalists who ask her if she was disappointed to finish outside of the medals at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in August 2010.

She finished fourth in the 100m, although she did take home a bronze medal after finishing third in the mixed nations medley relay.

“I was happy to make the ‘A’ final,” she says. “I wasn’t just there for a medal; up until 2008 I wasn’t even in the sport, so it was a huge thing for me to get that far. People expect me to be disappointed, but I wasn’t really, I was looking at the girls crying on the track around me thinking “what are you crying for? You’ve made the ‘A’ final and you’ve played a part in history”. I was so excited to get as far as I did. It was the best experience, I loved Singapore.”

17-year-old Tagoe, a relative newcomer to the sport with previous designs on a modelling career, was taken along to the track at Willesden Sports Centre after excelling at her school sports day in 2008; not one likely to be persuaded against her will, it was a committed effort from her teacher who would be only two aware of her determined qualities.

She needn’t have worried. Tagoe fell in love with athletics almost immediately. “I turned up at Willesden and Clarence (coach, Clarence Callender) was out on the track with his group, I just joined in with them,” she remembers.

“I didn’t start seriously sprinting until that point and I really love it now...”

“...except for the winter training,” she adds as an afterthought. “Well, I suppose I don’t mind it, but I hated it at first!”

She says it took her about two months to realise she was “pretty good”. It’s a slight understatement in fact, because over the course of less than three full competitive years in the sport she’s rarely finished outside of the podium positions. 

Her very simplistic view of her own progression is also refreshing, but perhaps doesn’t do justice to what’s she achieved; “I basically started out at club level at Willesden Junior Athletics Squad then Connie (Connie Henry) got me into regional stuff, then it was national and international. I guess I’ve been pretty successful.”

She clocked her current lifetime best performances for 100m (11.61) and 200m (24.20) in 2009 and it’s perhaps credit to the support team around her that her perception of performance and development is so uncomplicated.

Her ‘lead’ coach is Olympic and Commonwealth relay medallist Clarence Callender, England Athletics’ National Coach Mentor (100m/200m), while Connie Henry, Commonwealth Games triple jump bronze medallist (1998) and athletics commentator, co-ordinates her schedule which includes an increasing number of media-related obligations in her fast track rise to international duty.

While she is undoubtedly benefiting from the experience of her former international-level mentors, she’s got the added bonus of calling on two current track and field stars in former Commonwealth champion Larry Achike – seventh in Delhi - and double Commonwealth medallist Abi Oyepitan, in addition to having the support of the UKA Futures Programme and her school in Willesden.

“I can’t thank them enough,” says Tagoe, who acknowledges the difference in what each one of the quartet can offer. “It was so great to see Abi win those medals, that relay was brilliant.”

“They’ve got so many great contacts too,” she adds. “Connie knows a lot of people – she knows Usain Bolt’s coach and he came and did a holiday training session with us, it was amazing.”

It’s natural to expect her sporting idol to be Bolt, but in this case it’s not to be.  She claims that she doesn’t really look up to anyone but is concentrating solely on bettering herself and overcoming new challenges, an approach that’s worked to date.

“Moscow (European Youth Olympic Trials) and Singapore are definitely my athletics highlights so far,” she says of her short career. “Moscow was my first ever GB vest and Singapore was just so nice!”

“I’ve got my own goals and targets, but I’d really love to go to the European Juniors in 2011 and I want to win a medal – that’s my aim for now.”

The UKA Futures Programme underpins the World Class Performance Programme (WCPP) and was borne out of the restructure of UKA’s WCPP and the drive towards more targeted support for athletes and their coaches.

The Programme targets young athletes with the potential to deliver global medals for Britain in the future, typically in the 17 to 20 age range but with flexibility towards athletes who have come late to the sport, are in late developing events of are deemed an exceptional case for support.

Athletes and their coaches will be supported in their individual development plans allowing for more flexibility and individual discretion around distribution of resources. 42 coach-athlete pairs have been included in the 2010 Futures Programme.

 

 

 

 

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