The coaches of England Cricket World Cup winner Ben Stokes and Team GB Olympic sailing champion Hannah Mills have won The Coaching Chain award at this year’s UK Coaching Awards, which will take place at The Tower Hotel London on the 5 December.
Both of the athletes’ chain of coaches have been recognised for the great contributions they have made to their respective athletes’ journeys to success, with the award itself signifying and celebrating the importance of progressive person-centred coaching and the continuous, dedicated support and time invested in them throughout their careers.
The coaches behind the success of Stokes are Jon Gibson, John Windows, Geoff Cook, Andy Flower and Trevor Bayliss, whilst Mills has been guided by Anne Barrett, Ollie Green, Alan Williams and Joe Glanfield.
Challenged him to reach his full potential
Stokes will arguably be forever remembered for exploits on the crease in the summer of 2019. He helped England win their first Cricket World Cup in epic circumstances against New Zealand, with a significant contribution in the super over victory at Lord’s.
Stokes also put in what has been described by many pundits as one of the best Test innings ever, during the 2019 Ashes series with Australia. In the third Test at Headingly, with England on the verge of defeat, the all-rounder almost singlehandedly guided his country to achieve a record run chase of 359, scoring an unbeaten 135, including 11 fours and 8 sixes.
Stokes’s cricketing journey began in Cumbria at the age of 13 at Cockermouth Cricket Club, where Gibson worked with him to develop his batting and bowling. From there he developed his technique with Windows and Cook at Durham, who put in place the invaluable fundamentals that were the foundations for his later success.
At the beginning of Stokes’s professional career, it was England coach Flower who challenged him to reach his full potential, and from 2015, former England Head Coach Bayliss worked with him on his mindset, encouraging him to focus on the present instead of dwelling on past performances.
Ben Stokes said:
“I’m very proud that my coaches have been honoured with this award from UK Coaching. While athletes take the public accolades for their achievements, there are so many people along the way who don’t always get the recognition they deserve.
“Whether it’s the person who drove me to matches when I was a youngster, or the coach who stayed after practice to throw me a few more balls – this award is for them and everyone else who has supported me throughout my career.”
Andy Flower said:
“Ben is a once in a generation player and I’m proud to have played a small part in his journey as a cricketer and as a man.
“I was there for his debuts in limited overs and Test cricket, and now I’ve had the pleasure of watching him become a real leader in English sport.
“There are a huge number of people behind the scenes who have made small contributions to help Ben achieve his potential. We are all proud of him.”
Trevor Bayliss said:
“It is always a pleasure to coach an athlete like Ben; someone who is so dedicated to improving their craft and will go the extra mile to become the best.
“It’s testament to his coaching pathway that Ben was already an incredibly talented cricketer when I started working with him for England in 2015 and it has been great to watch him develop into one of the world’s best players.”
From good racer to fierce competitor
Cardiff-born Mills is an Olympic champion in the women’s sailing 470 dinghy class, winning silver and gold in London 2012 and Rio 2016 respectively, with her long-term sailing partner Saskia Clark. It was for these achievements that she won Female World Sailor of the Year in 2016 and was appointed an MBE in the 2017 New Year Honours.
With a new partner in Eilidh McIntyre, she became world champion this year for a second time, and is set to represent Team GB at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
It was on the Welsh waters of Llanishen Sailing Centre where coach Barrett taught Mills to love sailing, and when she joined the Welsh National Optimist Squad aged nine, it was Welsh National Squad Coach Green who honed Mills’s racing skills and dedication. Playing an important role in her transition from a good racer to a fierce competitor on the international stage was Welsh National Squad Coach Williams. As well as being a calm and supportive influence, Williams taught Mills about performing at the highest level under the highest pressure.
Double Olympic medallist Glanfield has been an indispensable part of Mills’s sailing career for the last 10 years. Describing him as a friend, mentor and inspiration, Mills is clear that she wouldn’t have achieved her Olympic medals without him.
Hannah Mills said:
“I’m absolutely delighted that these four hugely influential coaches have been recognised with this award.
“From nurturing me in Optimist dinghies as an eight-year-old to seeing me through to my first Olympic medal, these guys have been instrumental in my development as a person and as an athlete.
“I will be forever grateful for their input, dedication and devotion to me.”
UK Coaching’s Director of Coaching, Emma Atkins said:
“The Coaching Chain award is unique in the sense that it celebrates not just one coach but all the coaches who have been behind the growth and development of one of our star athletes.
“Throughout our lives there are people who, through coaching sport physical activity, will help us be better tomorrow than we were yesterday. They help us to realise our goals and motivations, and challenge us to improve mentally, as well as physically. Great coaches not only help create some of the greatest athletes this country has ever seen but are more importantly a force for good in our society – making this world a healthier and happier place.
“Many congratulations to the coaches of both Ben and Hannah – you’re all hugely deserved winners.”
The Coaching Chain category has become one of the real highlights of the Awards programme. Recent winners have included the groups of coaches behind the successes of Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas, Scotland rugby union full-back Stuart Hogg and Olympic hockey gold medal winner Kate Richardson-Walsh. This year’s winners will be presented with their accolade on the evening of the Awards.
The UK Coaching Awards honour #GreatCoaching from people and organisations, and demonstrates the role coaching plays in transforming lives and inspiring an active nation. Find out more about the Awards and this year’s finalists by heading to UKCoaching.org/coachingawards