Scotland turns to Jason Smyth's coach to help them find success at Glasgow 2014

Thursday, 27 September 2012
By Mike Rowbottom

Stephen Maguire_head_and_shouldersSeptember 27 - Stephen Maguire, the newly appointed director of coaching for scottishathletics, has raised the bar ahead of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The 49-year-old Irishman, who took up his post last week - after personally coaching fellow countryman Jason Smyth to a defence of his T13 100 and 200 metres titles at the London 2012 Paralympics – is targeting more than two medals at the home Games, which would surpass the total earned by Scottish athletes at Melbourne in 2006 and New Delhi in 2010.

"I think I am right in saying that Scotland has won two medals at each of the last two Commonwealth Games in track and field,"  Maguire told The Scotsman.

"I am already telling people that we will be looking to win more than two in Glasgow in 2014."

Chris Baillie won silver in the 110 metres hurdles and Lee McConnell took 400m hurdles bronze in Melbourne in 2006, and four years later, in Delhi, Eilidh Child earned silver in the 400m hurdles and Steph Twell took bronze in the 1500m.

Steph Twell_celebrates_Delhi_2010_bronze_medalSteph Twell was one of only two Scottish athletes to win medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi

Maguire, who has also worked in Florida with Tyson Gay, is looking forward to introducing himself to Scottish athletes and coaches over the winter.

"Hosting the Commonwealth Games is huge," he added.

"I've only been here since a week past on Monday and everything is directed towards that.

"I'll try and do what I did with Jason as an individual, replicating that for the Scottish Commonwealth Games squad and beyond.

"I'll work with coaches and get a world-class performance structure in place.

"There is a serious group of talented younger athletes coming through and I have to ensure they are nurtured properly.

"I'm a driven person and aim to do this new job well. It's a real challenge, scary but 
exciting too."

A total of 30 Scottish track and field athletes have already achieved the required selection standards for Glasgow 2014.

Only 17 achieved the standards demanded for Delhi in 2010 with two added to the team who travelled.

"I am not here to be a coach, added Maguire.

"I am not going to be coaching individuals directly.

"I am not going to build a squad around me.

Jason Smyth_with_Stephen_MaguireStephen Maguire (right) has helped Jason Smyth (left) become the world's fastest Paralympian

"I don't think that is appropriate for the individual coaches already here – I think I can make more of an impact by helping the coaches.

"Of course I have experience and I am lucky enough to have worked in a high-performance environment so I know what 'good' is, put it that way.

"But there is too big a job to be done elsewhere for me to get involved in individual coaching.

"To coach an athlete to Commonwealth Games level means pretty much a full-time involvement – it is 24/7 and you cannot let things slip.

"I am not being employed to coach one or two athletes.

"I can help the coaches and try to have the right strategies and support around them to improve standards.

"I also want people to reference the best practice in the world and see where we, in scottishathletics, and athletics in Scotland, can integrate."

Maguire will address IFAC, the international coaching conference in Glasgow from October 26-28, which coincides with the scottishathletics annual awards dinner at which quadruple 2012 Paralympic gold medallist David Weir will be guest of honour.

Contact the writer of this story at duncan.mackay@insidethegames.biz
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