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Coaching moments of 2016

Our UK Coaching Awards perfectly summarised the purpose of coaching: to ‘transform lives’; paying due respect to the sports coaches and coaching organisations, who did exactly that over the previous 12 months.

Many highlights of coaching achievements, from grassroots to community; high performance and lifetime, were savoured on the night; and after a record-breaking Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio for TeamGB and ParalympicsGB, 67 head coaches of our gold medallists, were awarded Mussabini Medals to acknowledge their hand they had in creating such success.

Before the year of sporting triumphs and coaching heroics draws to a close – and we look to 2017 for similar glory – we’ve selected a few more favourite coaching moments from 2016 for you to indulge in.

The Coach of the Year

Seamlessly let’s start with the man who led the British Men’s Artistic Gymnastics team to an unprecedented five medals at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and was awarded overall Coach of the Year at the UK Coaching Awards; receiving the coveted accolade from Sports Coach UK patron, HRH The Princess Royal.

Eddie Van Hoof has nurtured the British Men’s Artistic Gymnastics programme for over 10 years, so when Max Whitlock became TeamGB’s first Olympic champion on both floor and pommel, as well as winning a bronze in the all-around competition; and Louis Smith won his fourth Olympic medal by taking silver, also in pommel; and Nile Wilson won a first high bar bronze, it was safe to say that Eddie’s hard work had paid off.

Just after he was awarded High Performance Coach of the Year and overall Coach of the Year, Eddie said:

“We all put the athlete centre-stage but there’s a huge support network of coaches and support staff behind them; a real teamwork effort. It’s really gratifying that coaching is getting that recognition in terms of the work, and equally the hours that are put in to getting those results."

Eddie Van Hoof and Nile Wilson
Eddie Van Hoof and Nile Wilson after securing bronze in the high bar. Photograph: Aug. 15, 2016 - Source: Alex Livesey/Getty Images South America


Watch British Gymnastics' exclusive interview: Eddie Van Hoof - A Life in Gymnastics

Eddie talks about his journey through gymnastics, his proudest moments and the secrets behind the British men’s success on the world and Olympic stage.

A jubilant Gorazd Vecko holds Will Bayley aloft

Sticking with Rio, the performance director of British Table Tennis Association for People with Disabilities, Gorazd Vecko – former coach of Majeta Pintar, Slovenia’s first Paralympic gold medallist in women’s table tennis and the man who led TeamGB’s Paralympic table tennis team to four medals in London 2012, as well as coaching Will Bayley to World Championship gold in 2014 – wittingly became part of Will Bayley’s famous Rio 2016 celebration.

After missing out on gold to Germany’s Jochen Wollmert at London 2012, Will was egged on by Gorazd, to celebrate in style should he win gold in Rio: “I spoke to my coach two years ago and he said if I win in Rio I will have to do a special celebration.”

In a tetchy, feisty and gripping match, Will oversaw Brazil’s Israel Pereira Stroh 11-9, 5-11, 11-9, 11-4, to win gold for ParalympicsGB in the class seven table tennis final.

Overcome with emotion, Will climbed up on the table tennis table to celebrate, subsequently receiving a yellow card from the Chinese umpire. Once he climbed down, Will hugged the official and turned to see a jubilant Gorazd, with arms open wide. WIll took his cue, ran and leapt into his coach's embrace. A priceless moment.

Will Bayley and Gorazd Vecko embrace

Will Bayley celebrates with Gorazd Vecko after winning table tennis gold. Photograph: 12 Sept, 2016 - Source: OIS/IOC/Thomas Lovelock


Eddie Jones acknowledges Stuart Lancaster

After a disappointing rugby world cup campaign, Eddie Jones was appointed head coach of England Rugby. Over the last 12 months he has turned the fortunes of the men’s team around, leading England to a first Six Nations Grand Slam since 2003 and masterminding a three-test series whitewash of the wallabies – England’s first ever three-test series victory. As a result England have moved from fourth to second in rugby union's world rankings.

Regardless of the fanfare and celebratory hubbub, Eddie has found the time to acknowledge his (arguably) less successful predecessor, Stuart Lancaster, for the work he did with the team – regarding strength and depth – while head coach. As Daniel Schofield wrote in the Telegraph, “Lancaster bequeathed a considerable legacy to Jones.”

On the Saturday night after England trumped South Africa 37 points to 21, their biggest victory against the Springboks, Eddie said:

"When I took the job I had no expectations.

"All I knew was I was inheriting a very good side that was put together by Stuart Lancaster that had oodles and oodles of talent.”

As Alfred North Whitehead, the English mathematician and philosopher, once said: “No one who achieves success does so without acknowledging the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.”

Jade Jones drags Paul Green into the spotlight

Back to Rio. Jade Jones MBE, made history by becoming Britain’s first-ever double Olympic taekwondo champion, winning gold in the 57kg category at the London and Rio Olympic Games.

But in the years between London and Rio, Jade's relationship with taekwondo wasn't always golden, at times falling out of love with the sport.

However a pep talk from her coach Paul Green put her back in the right frame of mind, and subsequently Jade went on to comfortably beat Spain’s Eva Calmo Gomez, 16 points to 7, to successfully defend her title in Rio.

In an offering of gratitude, the first thing 'the Welsh wonder' did after the final bell sounded was to grab Paul from the side-lines and drag him, rather unwillingly, onto the taekwondo mat to revel in their achievement. A lovely moment of appreciation from athlete to coach. 

Jade Jones and coach Paul Green celebrate taekwondo gold. Photograph: 18 Aug, 2016 - Source: Independent/Getty

Claudio Ranieri serenaded by Andrea Bocelli

No list would be complete without the mention of Claudio Ranieri, recently crowned Coach of the Year at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.

The Italian guided Leicester City Football Club to a stunning 2015-2016 Premier League title in May, after they were 5,000-1 to lift the trophy at the start of the season.

Despite the fact Leicester beat the likes of Manchester City 3-1, as well as holding off  Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea for the top spot, the real moment of poignancy was when Claudio (and indeed Leicester) was serenaded at Leicester’s title party, by popular opera singer and fellow countryman, Andrea Bocelli.

Ben Ryan sings hymn with Fijian team

Staying with the theme of coaches and music, another ‘goosebump’ moment was between ex-Fijian rugby sevens coach, Ben Ryan, and his team at Rio 2016.

The London-born coach masterminded Olympic gold medal success for Fiji's rugby sevens squad, as they beat Great Britain 43-7 in the inaugural Olympic Rugby Sevens final - claiming the country's first ever Olympic medal.

At the end of the game, coach, players and support staff made a circle, linked arms and sang 'E Da Sa Qaqa' a traditional Fijian hymn that translates as ‘We Are Winners Because of this World.’ A unique and truly respectful moment between a coach and their team. "I'm smiling - it probably stops me from crying," said Fiji's Ben Ryan. 

Ben Ryan and Fijian rugby players

Ben Ryan and the Fijian team sing 'E Da Sa Qaqa' at Rio 2016. Photograph: Aug 12, 2016 - Source: sportal.co.nz


Danny Kerry urges calm before hockey final  

TeamGB’s women’s hockey gold medal-winning match was watched by nine million viewers and voted the best British moment of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games via a BBC poll.

The coach behind this historic feat was Danny Kerry, who led the team on an unbeaten run in Rio, winning eight out of eight matches in 13 days to take the gold.

Perhaps though, Danny’s most memorable coaching moment came after the semi-final of the women’s hockey, when Great Britain had just beaten New Zealand 3-0 to secure a spot in the final against Holland.

His steely defiance against the team (or himself) getting ahead of themselves, before the job was done, ultimately kept the team focussed.

“We haven’t had any injuries, just bashes, and to go through the rigours and deliver is impressive. We play with our heart and have a team culture in good times and bad.

“I am exceptionally proud to make history with this team. But we still have a job to do in the final.

“I told them after the semi-final that we have one more, one more win to do. Keep your feet on the ground. Finish the job.”

Danny's coaching style, which is about empowering players to understand their sense of responsibility within a team, was duly respected in 2015, when he won High Performance Coach of the Year and again in 2016, when he was acknowledged as part of the Coaching Chain award for his work with British skipper Kate Richardson-Walsh.

What are your favourite coaching moments from 2016?

Share them with @sportscoachUK using the hashtag #CoachingMoments2016 or post a comment below.


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