Emily Moss on Ellis Greatrex and Psalm Roberts Nash – two training partners who finished 1-2 in the English Schools 400m

Most coaches would be thrilled to have one athlete near the top of the UK age-group rankings for their event. However, in the case of the under-17 men’s 400m list, Claudio Albanese coaches two of the top three athletes, Ellis Greatrex (pictured above, right) and Psalm Roberts Nash (pictured above, left).

The Wolverhampton & Bilston AC duo occupied the top two spots on the podium at the English Schools Championships this year and went on to represent England in the SIAB Schools International, with a then 15-year-old Ellis repeating his victory and 16-year-old Psalm taking bronze.

However, at second and third in the UK 2015 rankings behind England Athletics under-17 champion Owen Richardson, there is very little separating the pair, with Ellis currently ahead courtesy of his 48.73 to place runner-up in the Midland League last month and Psalm’s 48.81 PB having come at the English Schools.

Reflecting on the English Schools, Albanese says: “It was an amazing experience for Ellis and Psalm and emotional for me and both families. Not only did Ellis and Psalm finish first and second, but before their final, Niall Price won 100m bronze, so it was three medals in the space of ten minutes. Gaining England vests the next weekend is the highlight of the season and both performed admirably.”

Psalm adds: “A couple of weeks before I told Ellis to imagine if we were to both go on to represent England, so to actually achieve that was amazing.”

Ellis meanwhile, is complimentary about his training partner. “Either way round would have been amazing and would have made our club and ourselves proud,” says Ellis.

The duo followed up at the England Athletics Under-17 Championships with silver for Ellis and bronze for Psalm, with Psalm also finishing runner-up at the Sainsbury’s School Games this month. Both boys have enjoyed a big
improvement this year, Psalm improving his personal best by more than three seconds, while Ellis was new to 400m, having previously focused on sprint hurdles, claiming a bronze in the England Athletics under-15 indoor 60m hurdles last year.

Albanese explains: “I would have expected the improvement from Psalm. We have concentrated on training methods away from the track such as hills to develop leg strength and circuit training to improve upper-body strength and arms. Ellis has astonished not only myself, but also the training group and his family on how he has attacked the 400m this season.”

An attack on the 400m hurdles would seem a logical path and Albanese is factoring this in, without placing any undue pressure on his young charge.

Clearly the pair benefit from each other. “They sort of bounce off each other,” explains Albanese. “They push each other along and make sure they finish the session together. We work on speed as well as endurance.

“One example session is a 4x200m in 25 seconds with a jog 100m and walk 100m recovery. I also ask both to let me know if they want to structure a training session.”

This two-way approach is clearly paying off and Albanese is keen for both athletes to continue enjoying the training and racing.

“If they both stay fit and enjoy the sport, the future is very bright,” he says.

It is apparent that Albanese enjoys training Ellis and Psalm and undoubtedly this has played a part in the boys’ success.

“I ask for input from both boys and they both take on board everything mentioned to them,” says the coach.

“They have a sensible approach and are very committed to improving further.”

You can find further performance stats on Ellis on Power of 10 here and on Psalm here.

» Support young athletes via the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, see rpmf.org.uk