Northern Ireland

Coach Stephen Maguire strikes gold for British athletics

Stephen Maguire (right) used to coach Paralympics star Jason Smyth Image copyright Presseye
Image caption Stephen Maguire (right) used to coach Paralympics star Jason Smyth

Never before has a British team won a world sprint gold, but now they can give thanks to their NI coach for achieving that dream.

Appointed as Head of Power in 2014, Stephen Maguire's mission was to oversee British athletics sprint, hurdles and relay programmes.

On Saturday, Great Britain's men claimed a stunning 4x100m relay gold at the World Championships in London.

On Sunday, Britain won silver in the women's 4x400m and bronze in the men's.

But the 53-year-old native of Strabane is no stranger to success.

He coached Ireland's Paralympics star Jason Smyth for many years, before taking up a role with Scottish athletics as director of coaching in 2012.

'Sprint Kings'

Maguire's former boss, Scottish athletics chief executive Nigel Holl, praised his "excellent impact".

"His influence in the two years leading in towards the Commonwealth Games has been significant," he said.

"That has been not only at the elite performance end of things but further in helping integrate and support our development plans and programmes."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Chijindu Ujah, Adam Gemili, Daniel Talbot and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake of Britain

It has been a remarkable career for a man whose talents were acknowledged in 2006, when he was named Northern Ireland's sports coach of the year.

"I've been coaching for a long time," Stephen Maguire told BBC Radio Foyle.

"I moved on to Scotland for a few years and then I was approached to come down and head up the sprints programme in Loughborough for British athletics.

"Something like that, you can't turn down. I firmly believe that within British athletics we have the potential to be the best sprints nation in the world and that's the goal."

In it to win it

Britain's men had looked smooth in qualification but not many predicted they were capable of an upset against the Americans.

Maguire said he was not surprised.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Britain's women's 4x400m relay team claimed Britain's fifth medal of the Worlds

"I thought it was going to be close but it's like any competition - you go in hoping to win it," he explained.

"We thought if we could get out fast and put the others under a little bit of pressure it could happen, and thankfully it did.

"You've always got the USA and Jamaica - the sprint kings of the world - but we were quietly confident."

And Maguire feels Britain's sprinting success leaves him with satisfaction of a different kind to that with sprinter Jason Smyth.

"The two of us worked extremely hard and he is a tremendous athlete," he said.

"This is different, it's more of a team and it's trying to pull a lot of individual athletes with individual aspirations into a team environment.

"Over the last two nights it all came together. The 4x100m is now one of the fastest teams ever in the world, but the girls 4x100m team and the two 4x400m teams did their business as well.

"I loved the time with Jason but this is good as well."

2017 medal table

Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 United States 10 11 9 30
2 Kenya 5 2 4 11
3 South Africa 3 1 2 6
4 France 3 0 2 5
5 China 2 3 2 7
6 Great Britain and N.I. 2 3 1 6
7 Ethiopia 2 3 0 5
8 Poland 2 2 4 8
9 Authorised Neutral Athlete 1 5 0 6
10 Germany 1 2 2 5

British medallists

Gold - Mo Farah - Men's 10,000m - day one - report

Gold - Great Britain (CJ Ujah, Adam Gemili, Danny Talbot, Neethaneel Mitchell-Blake) - Men's 4x100m relay - day nine - report

Silver - Mo Farah - Men's 5,000m - day nine - report

Silver - Great Britain (Asha Philip, Desiree Henry, Dina Asher-Smith, Daryll Neita) - Women's 4x100m relay - day nine

Silver - Great Britain (Zoey Clark, Laviai Nielsen, Eilidh Doyle, Emily Diamond) - Women's 4x400m relay - day 10 - report

Bronze - Great Britain (Matthew Hudson-Smith, Dwayne Cowan, Rabah Yousif, Martyn Rooney) - Men's 4x400m relay - day 10

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