Tributes to coach Dave Sunderland

GB endurance running coach to dozens of international athletes has died

Posted on February 17, 2014 by
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Dave Sunderland at the EA Awards with Joan Merris, daughter of Jack Holden, by Mark Shearman

Lynsey Sharp, Charlene Thomas and Bud Baldaro are among those to have paid tribute to endurance running coach Dave Sunderland, who died on Sunday.

During his career, Sunderland coached numerous medallists at major games, including former world indoor 800m record holder Jane Colebrook and dozens of other internationals such as Paul Davies-Hale and Spencer Duval.

Sharp, who Sunderland guided to the 2012 European 800m title, took to Twitter to say how she will be “forever grateful”.

“So devastated to hear of the passing of the man who made me an Olympian and European champion,” she said.

Thomas, who won the UK Indoor 3000m title in Sheffield this month, tweeted: “Devastated that Dave Sunderland has passed away. Massive support to many athletes & coaches.”

Baldaro, a fellow endurance running coach, emailed AW to say: “He was an  absolute rock in the coaching endurance world.  Totally passionate about the sport he  did so, so much at all levels.”

Baldaro added: “Dave was a man of strong opinions and forceful views with a great sense of justice and fairness in how athletes and coaches should be treated. He was also a wonderful friend. Beneath his superficially gruff exterior he was a loyal, caring, sensitive friend, or mate – a word he loved to use – nothing was ever too much trouble for him no matter how busy he was. Dave was a man amongst men and the athletics world mourns his passing.”

A founder member of Cannock & Stafford AC, Sunderland went on to become the England Athletics national coach mentor for endurance and authored two coaching books and numerous coaching articles – some of which were published in AW – as well as being a senior lecturer for the IAAF and part of the British Milers’ Club set-up.

Toni Minichiello, coach to Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill, was among other coaches to pay tribute, tweeting: “Sad to hear of Dave Sunderland’s passing. An honest, straight talking man with integrity, there are few in athletics, now there’s one less.”

Tim Brennan, chairman of the BMC, added: “Dave Sunderland has been a great supporter and a crucial part of the British Milers’ Club. He was uniquely qualified for his role in producing the BMC newsletter, which is a fantastic source of information, as he was a very respected coach and was able to pull everything together for the publication. He also made a huge contribution to the coaching seminars. He was not only a great coach but also a great coach who could communicate.”

Brennan added: “We were so pleased that we awarded him the Lifetime Coaching Award at the European Coaching Conference recently and I know he was extremely pleased to receive that in front of his peers – he really deserved it. We are deeply shocked and saddened by his death and our thoughts go to his family.”

Sunderland died following complications after surgery in January and he leaves a wife Aline and daughter Alison.

4 Responses to “Tributes to coach Dave Sunderland”

  1. Jane Weston says:

    I was so sad to hear today that my coach in the 1970s, Dave Sunderland has sadly passed away. His guidance, knowledge, firmness and friendship took this timid country girl,living in in the depths of rural Lincolnshire with no facilities to the heights of International competition. He was able to challenge and shape my raw talent so that I was able to realise my potential and not only win medals in major championships but a UK and world record too.
    When I was running as a Vet I again achieved gold and silver medals at the World Championships in Gateshead and my local coach, Micky Hall who got me ready for those championships was mentored by Dave Sunderland on several occasions and he had huge respect and admiration for him. Sadly Micky passed away in 2010 but I know he would have wanted me to pass on his sincere condolences too. His legacy will live on in others.
    Jane Colebrook/Finch/Weston

  2. Christine says:

    I too was very sad to hear that Dave Sunderland has passed away. I have good memories of running for Cannock and Stafford AC. Dave was a great person always willing to listen and give guidance and support. His enthusiasm for the sport was unbounded. I respected him very much and truly enjoyed my time with Cannock and Stafford with Dave at the helm. My prayers go to his family at this difficult time, may they take comfort in all the tributes from the people whose lives Dave touched.
    Teena Colebrook San Luis Obispo, California.

  3. Mike Winch says:

    Dave was one of our best ever coaches. Honest, forthright and knowledgeable. I had the honour to have him as Part of my coaching team at the 2012 Manchester Commonwealth Games where he prodded, motivated and inspired the athletes to great results.

    He was always ready to debate any case and argue his position, but always supported the side right whatever the cost to him personally.

    It is immensely sad to lose him. Even sadder for our sport to ask who will replace him.

  4. Dot Fellows says:

    Dave was my coach for 30years and always said that he wanted to keep in touch with grass roots athletics. His main passion was Staffordshire schools and they always did well in English schools events. Thank you so much Dave you will be greatly missed.

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