ATHLETICS clubs have seen numbers swell on their track nights after the excitement of track and field at the Olympics got youngsters desperate to have a go at the sport.
Basildon Athletics Club is no exception, with youngsters forming queues to sign up, spurred on by the success of Mo Farah and Jess Ennis.
But the chairman of Basildon AC and three-time Olympian himself, Eamonn Martin, has warned without more coaches, athletics won’t be able to reap the rewards of the rise in popularity in the sport.
Martin, who welcomed Sky Sports cameras to the club this week as they filmed a piece on the Olympic legacy, said: “The Olympics could be an amazing thing for our club and for athletics.
“Normally at this time of year you see a drop off in numbers coming to club nights, but we have increased ever since the Olympics started.
“It’s fantastic but we need a little bit of realism. A lot has been said about volunteers and the great job they did throughout the Olympics – and rightly so.
“But I’ve got track managers and coaches at Basildon who volunteer twice a week, every week of the year, and then go away with their athletes over the weekend.
“They are the real volunteers, they are doing it all the time, but we have a problem because there aren’t enough of them.
“We need to find more coaches. We can take on more young athletes, but we can’t if we haven’t got the coaches.”
Basildon AC has a long and proud tradition in middle and long distance running and as well as Martin – who coaches 2016 hopefuls Gemma Kersey and Adam Hickey – another former Olympian, Rob Denmark, also coaches at the club.
That means the middle-distance coaching is particularly strong but it’s the field events where the club is desperate for more help.
“We do need more coaches in the technical, field events,” said Martin. “Events like the pole vault, where you need that specialist knowledge, we need more help with.
“The middle-distance events are fine. Between me and Rob, there is a lot of knowledge and we can impart that to the other coaches.”
l If you are interested in joining Basildon AC or can help with coaching, visit the club’s website www.basildonathleticsclub.co.uk