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UK Coaching Team

The Ultimate Coach-athlete Relationship: Team McKillop has Golden Touch in Overcoming Adversity

Michael and Patrick McKillop share the inspirational inside story of their father-son coach-athlete relationship. Northern Ireland sporting hero Michael has cerebral palsy and epilepsy and has had to overcome multiple personal and sporting challenges on his road to Paralympic glory. With his dad at his side every step of the way, Blake Richardson charts their journey and how, together, they have conquered every hurdle

We were treated to both royalty and sporting royalty at this year’s UK Coaching Summit in Northern Ireland.

There was a surprise special guest appearance by UK Coaching patron Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, who addressed the 200 delegates on the opening morning.

Sadly, Rory McIlroy’s appearance at the glorious Slieve Donard Resort & Spa was only fleeting. His unexpected cameo lasted the length of breakfast before he hit the famous links at the neighbouring Royal County Down Golf Club just a few steps from the hotel.

But it was the appearance of four-time Paralympic gold medallist Dr Michael McKillop and his ‘biggest fan’, dad Patrick, his coach from the age of 12, that will surely live longest in the memory.

Delivering their keynote speech together for the first time, the pair took us on an emotional journey, charting the multiple hurdles Michael has had to overcome en route to the top of his sport after being diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of two.

Michael’s personal reflections demonstrated the important role resilience and willpower plays in triumphing over adversity, but the presentation also helped elevate the importance of the coaching profession, as Patrick explained with passion and professional precision how he has adapted training around Michael’s disability.

The result was a presentation laden with valuable life lessons but also a quintessential lesson in elite coaching, covering the importance of the coach-athlete relationship (and the father-son relationship), positive role models, team-work and togetherness, planning and preparation, trust and respect, psychology and technology, and so much more.

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UK Coaching Team