British athletics coach Lloyd Cowan, who guided the career of Christine Ohuruogu, has died aged 58 ©Getty Images

Tributes have poured in from across British athletics following the death of coach Lloyd Cowan, who guided Christine Ohuruogu to world and Olympic 400 metres titles and Andy Turner to European and Commonwealth 110m hurdles gold medals.

Cowan, who was 58, was a hugely popular and respected figure in the sport, as comments on social media from a generation of top athletes attest.

The Londoner was a top-level athlete himself  - he ran for England at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria in Canada, missing the 110 metres hurdles final by one place.

But it was as a coach, based in north London, that Cowan made his name in the sport.

After guiding Ohuruogu to the Commonwealth Games 400m title in 2006, he then saw her through a traumatic one-year suspension for whereabouts failures and saw her to the world title in Osaka the following year.

Ohuruogu, whose appeal against the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport failed - even though the panel found there was "no suggestion that she is guilty of taking drugs in order to enhance her performance" - was then successful in appealing against British Olympic Association’s automatic ban from future Games and was thus able to run at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, where she won gold.

Four years later Ohuruogu competed just down the road from where she had been brought up and earned silver at the London 2012 Olympics.

Cowan also guided Turner to sprint hurdles victories at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and European Championships, and later guided his son, Dwayne, who became one of Britain’s top one-lap runners.

Many more benefited from his coaching and his achievements were recognised with a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) honour in 2015, whereas in 2013 he was awarded the prestigious Ron Pickering Memorial Award for Services to Athletics.

Ohuruogu told The Times last year: "The new breed of coaches are more like scientists but he [Cowan] was one of those who saw sport as an art.

"Lloyd never went to the Olympic Games or the World Championships but he had this way of being that meant he was the only person I would listen to.

"Nobody could get in my head like he could."

In 2013 Cowan was appointed lead sprints coach by UK Athletics.

The MBE from the Queen followed two years later and this week many of his former athletes and fellow coaches have taken to social media to pay their respects.

Turner tweeted: "Heartbroken, absolutely heartbroken to hear that my coach Lloyd Cowan had passed away. 

"[Twelve] good years with this man, I owe him everything. 


Christine Ohuruogu won an Olympic gold medal under the guidance of Lloyd Cowan ©Getty Images
Christine Ohuruogu won an Olympic gold medal under the guidance of Lloyd Cowan ©Getty Images

Linford Christie, Britain’s former world and Olympic 100m champion, commented: "The world of track lost another family member today, and it hurt more than I could have ever imagined. 

"RIP Lloyd Cowan. 

"The space you left cannot be filled. 

"My condolences to all who knew and loved you."

Former world and Olympic heptathlon champion Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill wrote said she was "so sad to read the news" of Cowan's death.

"I have so many great memories of spending time with Lloyd on training camps and at champs. 

"He always believed in me and gave me some great advice and coaching tips along the way in the hurdles. 

"Pure passion in what he did!”