“Climber Angie Scarth-Johnson comes across as a regular 13-year-old girl who just happens to be the best in the world,” writes sport columnist TIM GAVEL
THINK sporting success and the common factor is the coach. Ninety-nine per cent of the time they are coaches of team sports: Wayne Bennett, Lisa Alexander, Alastair Clarkson, Carrie Graf and Eddie Jones readily come to mind.
Why is it we only fully credit coaches in team sports? Coaches of individuals rarely, if ever, receive the same recognition for their achievements.
I would go so far as to say horse trainers are lauded for their efforts more than coaches of athletes in individual sports. In fact, a more unsung group of passionate, driven people not interested in public profile you’d be hard pressed to find.
It took athletes with the presence of mind during the Rio Olympics to put things in perspective.
One such athlete was Canberra rower Kim Brennan. After winning the gold medal in the women’s single sculls, how refreshing was it to hear her praise coach, Lyall McCarthy, almost as soon as she got off the water?
McCarthy has been there from the outset; it’s been a partnership lasting 11 years with the end goal of winning Olympic gold.
Being a long-term coach of any sport, especially in an event such as the single sculls, presents many challenges, such as constantly working out ways to deliver a message that isn’t repetitive.
Brennan is an outstanding athlete, but no matter how good the athlete, the outcome would have faltered without the right person to guide and mentor.
It is a good thing Lyall is a left-field thinker with a laconic personality. An overly intense approach wouldn’t have lasted this long with the same athlete.
There is more to it than simply getting the rower on the water; it is the constant search for improvement – the sports strategist, sports scientist and physiologist all rolled into one.
Another aspect has been the work put in to ensure there is a team aspect to Kim’s preparation.
It has resulted in world titles, an Olympic gold, silver and a bronze. If Brennan opts to retire, the challenge will be for McCarthy to do it all again.
He has shown he’s more than capable of successfully rising to the challenge. In the meantime, let’s celebrate these two Canberra stars.