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More than just a coach – Johnny Greavesande

first_imgTHERE is nothing that makes athletics coach Johnny Gravesande happier than seeing his athletes succeed.“Seeing the kids happy when they win, that’s the biggest reward; when you know that yourJohnny Gravesande with his AAG coach-of-the-year trophy(athlete) on an overseas trip is performing, or even when you can see them on television, and they mention your name, that’s the biggest payment or achievement you could get as a coach,” the 2016 Coach-of-the-Year related during an exclusive interview with Chronicle Sport.When it comes to his athletes, for Gravesande it’s about more than just being a coach. Developing close ties with his athletes is a big part of what he does.“First thing you have to do is to develop a relationship between you and the athletes, and in that relationship you have to be a leader, you have to be a teacher you have to be a parent,” heDaniel Williamsnoted, as he sat down on the bleachers of the Mackenzie Sports Club (MSC) ground.The MSC is home to Gravesande’s athletics club, the Upper Demerara Schools Track Club, which caters to the training needs of almost 30 athletes from the Linden district.Linden, of course, is well known for producing athletes who stand out at one point or another.His batch includes two of Guyana’s top-ranking youth athletes, Chantoba Bright and Daniel Williams, who have been giving Johnny quite a lot to be proud of recently.Others like distance athletes, Tyshon Bentick and Winston Missigher, have also passed through Gravesande’s hands, but he hasn’t had any athletes like Bright and Williams in recent times.Bright has been gaining quite a lot of attention in the long, triple and high jumps; Williams has been making progress as a sprinter.At just 15 years old Bright is already jumping less than a metre shy of the national record in the long jump; she’s also a CARIFTA Games gold medallist and South American Youth Championships bronze medallist. She’s set to take on the CARIFTA Games again this year.Williams is a South American Youth Championships double silver medallist, and would have been a CARIFTA silver medallist if not for a disqualification in the 400m.In his athlete’s first approach, Gravesande said it’s a lot about tailoring everything to what the athlete can do.“Every athlete develops in different ways. Everyone does a different drill, a different technique; everything is unique,” Gravesande pointed out.He went on to outline how he feels it pivotal to sit down with the athletes, and their parents and get everyone involved with his plans.“We talk about it a lot, we try to involve their parents, and we would have some group discussion to put down some rules as long as it’s ok with the parents, so they (parents) could learn to put their trust in me.”Gravesande himself is a product of the Upper Demerara Club, doing sprint and field events. His face almost automatically breaks out in laughter when he tries to recall his exploits from way back in the days.His disposition changes when he recalls how he finally ended his days as an athlete after he aged into the senior category and there were hardly any meets to participate in.It was his knowledge from when he was an athlete that he depended heavily upon when he first started out as a coach.Despite coaching since 2002 it was only earlier this year that he became certified when he finally had the opportunity to take the Coaches Education and Certification System (CECS) IAAF Level I Coaching Course – Guyana’s first coaching course in over a decade.Notwithstanding he was not a certified coach Gravesande took up the mantle to coach the athletes because, as he puts it, he just wanted to give back to the sport of athletics.last_img

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