Coaching in the UK

Coach Mussabini honoured with an English Heritage Blue Plaque

Tue, 10 Jul 2012

The athletics coach Scipio Africanus Mussabini (1867-1927) is to be commemorated with an English Heritage blue plaque at his former home in Herne Hill. A pioneering figure in both professional and amateur sport in Britain, Sam (as he was invariably known on account of his initials) transformed athletics.

Mussabini’s innovative training methods reaped bountiful rewards: his runners won eleven Olympic medals, including five gold, between 1908 and 1928. He addressed every aspect to training, used scientific methods to analyse running action, and instilled powerful self-belief in his athletes.

Harold Abrahams, who won gold in the 100m sprint at the 1924 Paris Olympics, credited Sam with making him “improve that decisive one per cent, which made all the difference between supreme success and obscurity”. Mussabini’s vital role in Abrahams’ success was later immortalised in the film Chariots of Fire.

Chris Baillieu MBE, Chair of sports coach UK was delighted with this announcement, commenting “Sam Mussabini is arguably the forefather of modern coaching. He was a man ahead of his time, for example using photographs to analyse running techniques, a forerunner to the video technology we use today. The success of his coaching was evident in the number of gold medals won by his athletes. Sports coaching today owes a great deal to the passion for excellence and dedication to detail shown by Sam Mussabini. We are delighted that his place in the heritage of British sport has been recognised by this Blue Plaque.”

Lord Coe says: “I’m delighted English Heritage is honouring Sam Mussabini with a blue plaque, right next to the track where he coached Harold Abrahams. As we celebrate Mussabini’s links to the Herne Hill Velodrome and his sporting achievements, hopefully more people will learn about his legacy and the contributions he made to British sport. My father trained at this track and now young athletes using the track today will be inspired by this great man.”

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