News Hiding a Light under a Bushel – A Tale of an Athletics Coach Hiding a Light under a Bushel – A Tale of an Athletics Coach


Report by Ian Lockyer
2015-04-10 21:43:11

Hiding a Light under a Bushel – A Tale of an Athletics Coach

Most good coaches go about their business in an unassuming manner, giving up their time for the good of others without any request for credit.   There are many great coaches in Thanet, not just in athletics but in all sporting genres including swimming, gymnastics, football, rugby or martial arts.  But one coach that has quietly gone along his business in helping develop youth talent is Noel Sutton, who is one of the most accomplished cross country runners in Kent and who has represented Great Britain for his age category in Triathlon.  

Noel has always been a keen sportsman.  At the age of 13 years old, he was county standard at Rugby and Hockey as well as very active in Swimming, Squash and Cross Country as well.  During this time, it became apparent that he was starting to excel more as a runner than at other sports.

Noel said, ‘ I found that I loved Cross Country and my gradual path into Athletics and Cross Country became the natural decision.  It was something that I absolutely loved.  My school was a big rugby school so it was unusual, but that made it even more appealing for me.’

He added, ‘I eventually ran for Somerset Schools at Inter-counties and English Schools for a few years, before I moved to London and university.  My running got more serious at university and I was really lucky to run for a very good club and join a squad that was coached by a man who still influences my running and coaching today.’ 

Noel recently competed in the National Cross Country Championships in London.  It appears that cross country is one of his athletic passions.  Noel said, ’This is a race I have run lots of times as a junior and a handful of times as a senior.  I think it’s the most amazing race in the calendar.  There were 5-6000 entries across all age groups and genders from under 13 upwards.  The whole day is a festival of running, you get to catch up with all the people you've raced all season and then runners from other clubs that you might only see once a year at this race. ‘

He said, ‘Parliament Hill is one of the most iconic courses in the Country and has a reputation for being tough, it starts at the bottom of a steep 400m hill and then gets very muddy and continues being hilly all the way round.  Combine this course with the best runners in the country and thousands of spectators you can't help feeling like a gladiator.’

He added, ‘This was the first time Thanet Roadrunners AC have taken a squad of juniors to the Nationals.  The most important goal of the day for me was that they all came away with a great experience wanting to come back again year after year.  In that respect the day was a complete success.’

Race day didn’t go according to plan for Noel.  A mistake in having little food on the day, conducting numerous warm ups with the kids and  running around encouraging them on the course left Noel knackered.  He said, ‘On the first lap of my race, my running was awesome.  On the second lap, the day caught up with me and it felt like the population of a small village came past.  It wasn’t the race I was hoping for, but I was happy with my time.  However the day with the juniors made up for it.’

Noel has experience at coaching a diverse range of age groups from children up to seniors as well as a diverse range of ability level from novice to élite.  He said, ‘I've been part of the coaching team with the Thanet Roadrunner Juniors for quite a few years now.  I love what the club has to offer.  It’s a very inclusive club with something for every standard of runner.  Gary Gillat's, (Thanet Roadrunner AC  Head Coach) vision is to make running as accessible as possible to every kid that might want to run and this is a passion that rubs off on all of us.  I love watching the kids growing in confidence and watching their athletic development.’

The last ten years, Noel has moved into Triathlon where he has consistently competed at Great Britain Age Group level.  Noel said, ‘I started cross training 10 years or so ago when I was injured.  I had swam to a good level at School and had done a bit of mountain biking too so it just sort of happened.  I improved to quite a good standard and have represented Great Britain as an Age-Grouper (Old Man) fairly consistently.  Two year ago I got 3rd at the European Championships in Turkey and 7th at The World Championships in London (Hyde Park).  Last Year I decided not to do the European or Worlds but did get 3rd in both the English Nationals and The British National Championships.’

As to the future, it looks like Noel will continue to be helping Thanet Roadrunners AC develop the next great cop of talented athletes.  Noel said, ‘It is important for me to lead by example and show my own kids the importance of health and fitness.  I also want them to be the best they can be at whatever it is they choose to want to do.  I also want to be able to extend this to the kids we coach and for them to continue to become the best version of themselves they can.  Much of what we coach in Athletics is transferrable to other life skills, and importantly a strong work ethic and training rigour rubs off on them academically too.’

‘I'm not sure where the rest of my racing career will develop other than I'll continue to be the best I can be.  I'll in turn try to encourage these around me to do the same too.  For most of us sport is just a hobby its doesn't put food on the table or pay the bills so it’s vital to get up in the morning and do what your passionate about with a smile on your face.’



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