Latest round of awards also sees Mike Down of Bristol & West AC named Ambassador of the Month for September
City of Portsmouth Athletics Club has been voted as the September winner of the Ronhill/AW Club of the Month awards, with Mike Down of Bristol & West Athletics Club earning the accolade of Ronhill Ambassador of the Month.
In the 1960s, with athletes such as Bruce Tulloh and Martin Hyman and later Alan Pascoe on their books, City of Portsmouth AC’s team roster read like a who’s who of British athletics. Although the club might not be enjoying the same rich vein of form, the future is still looking very bright.
The Southern club continues to churn out internationals, including Olivia Breen, who won 2012 Paralympic bronze as part of GB’s T35-T38 4x100m team.
Based at the refurbished Mountbatten Centre Stadium, the club meets on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings, as well as Saturday and Sunday mornings. An athletics academy also caters for the five to eight-year-old children. This is conducted in cooperation with Parkwood Leisure and is a recent initiative in response to the large number of enquiries from parents of children too young for the regular club.
City of Portsmouth AC might long have been one of the UK’s most successful clubs, yet it has not lost sight of the fact that it needs to continually find new ways to make athletics accessible to all.
Club chairman Phil Budd sums up City of Portsmouth AC’s philosophy, when he says: “We strive to make the club all-inclusive and there should be no bars to participation. We also seek to work in cooperation with other local clubs, often jointly promoting events and there exists a cross over with both officials and coaches.”
Down, meanwhile, receives the honour of Ambassador of the Month, with the Bristol & West stalwart (pictured below, second from left, with successful Bristol athletes) recognised for his dedication to the sport.
Few could have devoted as much of their lives to the sport as this 73-year-old, who has every copy of AW since he joined Westbury Harriers as an 11-year-old in 1951.
In 1961 while doing a PGCE at Loughborough, Down became a qualified coach, before going to Illinois for a year to lecture at the US international track and field clinic. Returning in 1964, he took up a research appointment in the PE and Industrial Fitness Unit at Loughborough and developed his study of human performance, including methods of fitness testing, nutrition and training for endurance events, a role he continued until 1979.
He was team manager for both British Universities and Leicestershire, became a senior coach in 1966 and founder chairman of Charnwood AC in 1974. Down returned to Bristol AC in 1979 to set up a health and fitness centre in the area with his brother, which remained popular until they retired in 2000.
Over 30 years he coached numerous athletes to international honours, including Jo Pavey, Rob Whalley, John Kirkbride and Ian Gillespie. In 2011, as Down celebrated 50 years of coaching, he passed over his group to Keith Brackstone. Although he does less than previously, Down still coaches 3:56 miler Richard Peters and says: “I still support Keith and Chris Elson with their group.”
Every month, we will announce the winners of the Athletics Weekly Club and Club Ambassador awards, which are supported by Ronhill and assisted by Hilly Limited and Ridgeway Textiles. The awards reinforce our joint commitment to grassroots club athletics and will culminate in our annual awards. You can enter here.
Winning clubs receive £150 of Ronhill kit and a trophy, while the chosen ambassador gets £100 of kit and a trophy.
» Read more about what City of Portsmouth AC and Mike Down of Bristol & West AC have done in order to deserve their awards in the October 3 edition of AW, which is available here, digitally here or from most WHSmith, Tesco and other leading stores