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Athletes need to develop at a steady pace, says award winning coach

By Will Clark

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Inverness Harriers coach Ross Cairns believes moderation is key in helping young athletes reach their full potential.

Ross Cairns and Megan Keith
Ross Cairns and Megan Keith

The athletics coach from Fortrose, who has been named Scottish Athletics development coach of the year, says young athletes take part in too many races and should concentrate more on training.

The coronavirus pandemic had a major impact on the athletics calendar, cancelling a number of races this year.

Cairns says his athletes have been using this time to analyse their own technique and look at how they can improve their own performance.

He says there should be a greater emphasis on young athletes enjoying running, than focusing on competitions.

“The last thing you want to do is push kids too hard and they don’t want to go to training any longer,” he said.

“Young athletes race too much in my view. Having the situation we have just now, we have an unbroken ability to work over an extended period of time on improving things without the pressure of competitions.”

He added: “In a usual year, an athlete might have a niggle but might still compete in a race.

“But at the moment an athlete can rest as the pressure valve of competition has been taken away.”

Cairns received the Scottish Athletics development coach of the year award for his work with the junior endurance group and work with the North District Cross Country and Road Commission.

As well as coaching, Cairns has driven the development of north training camps which are open to all clubs and are inclusive to athletes with additional needs. He said it was an honour to receive the award but it came as a shock to him when he was announced as the winner.

“It was a bit of a surprise to be honest. To get nominated by your national body is fantastic,” he said.

“For a coach in the north to win an award, in whatever sport you do is good and says a lot about the work we have been doing for a number of years.

“I am a novice at it, but it is good to get recognition in a time which has been bleak during the coronavirus period.”

There was also success for one his athletes Megan Keith, who won the George Dallas Memorial Trophy from the Dallas Trust and the under-20 performer of the year award, recognising her achievements in both cross country and road events.

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