UK Coaching has officially opened a public vote for the Great Coaching Moment of the Year award category as part of its UK Coaching Awards, with England coach Gareth Southgate, Liverpool FC’s Jürgen Klopp and the coaches behind the successes of Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty nominated as finalists.
The Great Coaching Moment of the Year celebrates the moment that distinguishes a coach from their focus on a game or a result to their focus on the person or people in front of them; the moments when ‘we’ see or hear about a coach doing something humanistic to support and guide their athlete or athletes.
This year’s shortlist was selected in partnership with the Sports Journalists’ Association and features Southgate, Asher-Smith’s coach John Blackie, Champions League winning coach Jürgen Klopp and British Swimming coach Melanie Marshall, who has helped guide Adam Peaty to multiple global titles and world records.
Southgate was selected for his display of decision making and leadership qualities, supporting and protecting his players and backroom staff as they managed the racism that overshadowed England’s win in Bulgaria during Euro 2020 qualifying.
There is one moment from the match that shows the type of person-centred bond that Southgate has with his players: His heartfelt embrace with Marcus Rashford as he was substituted from the game.
Essex-born coach John Blackie, who Dina Asher-Smith has called her ‘second dad’, was selected for his great coaching of the British sprinter, who earlier this year triumphed at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, winning 200m gold, 100m silver and 4x100m relay silver.
Asher-Smith’s journey with Blackie began at Blackheath and Bromley Harriers AC, when she was just eight years old. In a candid column she wrote in The Telegraph prior to making history in Doha – becoming the first Briton to win three medals at a major global athletics championships – she thanked him for the crucial role he played in the making of her success, commenting on his joy in supporting and helping others to fulfil their potential.
It is fitting that Asher-Smith then went on to share her moment in the spotlight with him, dedicating her world gold to his ‘patience, intelligence and wisdom’.
John Blackie said:
“I feel very humbled by the honour of being shortlisted for such a prestigious award. Working with Dina over the years has been a very rewarding experience as she is a very talented, multi-faceted individual. Achieving the results in Berlin last year and then again in Doha this year are really testament to the benefits of a strong team partnership. We are both looking forward to another productive year in our build-up to Tokyo.”
Dina Asher-Smith said:
“I’m so proud and happy to hear that John has been shortlisted for the Great Coaching Moment of the Year. I would not be the woman and athlete I am today without his hard-work, selflessness and patience, and for that I will be forever grateful. John puts athletes first and I think he would be a worth winner of this award.”
After finishing as runners-up in the 2017-2018 UEFA Champions League final, Liverpool FC manager Jürgen Klopp made amends this year, beating Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in Madrid. The win gave the German his first trophy with Liverpool and his first Champions League title, cementing his name in the hearts and minds of the Anfield faithful.
The coaching moment to savour came in the second leg of the semi-final, when Liverpool produced, arguably, one of the best come-backs in sporting history, booking their place in the Champions League final by thrashing Lionel Messi’s Barcelona 4-0, having been 3-0 down from the first leg. With his arms clasped around the shoulders of Virgil van Dijk and Mo Salah, Klopp belted out the iconic ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ in harmony with the Kop, bringing the community of supporters together with the players and lifting the whole club.
Mel Marshall is one of Britain’s most decorated swimmers, and the world-class swim coach who helped mastermind Adam Peaty’s success. This year, Peaty broke his own world record in the semi-final of the 100m breaststroke at the World Aquatics Championships in South Korea with a time of 56.88. Going on to retain his title and win gold in the 50m breaststroke as well.
Their coach-athlete relationship started when Peaty was 15, with Mel motivating his rise from a club swimmer to a World, European, Commonwealth and Olympic Games champion.
In a recent Instagram post, Peaty encapsulated their coaching journey, with a snapshot of them working together and the caption ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’. On top of that, he also dedicated his Swimmer of the Year award at the British Swimming Awards to her.
Mel Marshall said:
“It goes without saying that it’s an absolute honour for both Adam and myself to be nominated for this award.
“Adam and I have been working together for 11 years now, so it has been an incredible journey that we’ve been on, with plenty of highs and lows along the way.
“2019 was a great year, with success at the World Championships and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank every single person from British Swimming and beyond who has played a key role in this success.”
Adam Peaty said:
“As one of the leading female coaches in our country, I’m thrilled that Mel has been recognised and nominated for Great Coaching Moment of the Year.
“Mel is so much more than just a coach and is there for her athletes 24/7. We share common goals and a mutual understanding that we will work harder and be smarter which allows us to achieve the results that we do. Mel shares the dreams of her athletes and has enabled me to grow not just as a swimmer, but also as a person, both physically and mentally. Mel is an incredible coach and she’s also an incredible person.”
This year’s Great Coaching Moment of the Year shortlist was selected in partnership with the Sports Journalists’ Association (SJA) – the largest member organisation of sports media professionals in the world. Who wins? You decide. Cast your vote at www.ukcoaching.org/GCM
Sports Journalists’ Association Joint-chair Andy Elliott, said:
“Without great coaching, we wouldn’t witness great moments in sport, and the SJA is delighted to support UK Coaching in providing this shortlist for the Great Coaching Moment of the Year.
“We in the sports media understand that the focus inevitably will be on the performers, but we also recognise that coaches have a vital role to play in producing great sports stars and moments to savour.”
UK Coaching’s Director of Coaching, Emma Atkins said:
“What a fantastic shortlist for this year’s Great Coaching Moment.
“With so many prominent sporting moments to choose from over the past 12 months, we were pleased to have the support and input from members of the SJA, who are experts when it comes to knowing the moments that have got sports journalists talking and writing, and the rest of us reading.
“This line up demonstrates that Great Coaching in high-performance and elite sport isn’t, necessarily, always about the result or outcome. It can be about the strong lifetime bond formed between a coach and their athlete at a young age; or cherishing the moments of great success against the odds with your team; or being a source of light and great strength for your players in moments of darkness. I look forward to seeing who the public choose as their winner on the night of the Awards.”
The UK Coaching Awards are taking place on Thursday 5 December 2019 at The Tower Hotel London and will recognise and celebrate the work of people and organisations who are making a significant impact on Great Coaching.
Everyone has a chance to pick their favourite of the four finalists in the public vote, which closes on Thursday 5 December – the same day as the UK Coaching Awards.
Votes can be placed on the UK Coaching website at www.ukcoaching.org/GCM