Legendary coach shares his secrets

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THE world’s most successful running coach has been sharing his secrets in Lewes.

Athletes and coaches from local athletics clubs attended a discussion at Priory School, Lewes, about issues raised by a new documentary film, Town of Runners, which follows the progress of two young athletes from Bekoji, in Ethiopia.

The event was organised by the film’s director Jerry Rothwell, who lives locally, and featured a not-so-local special guest: Sentayehu Ashetu, Bekoji’s longstanding coach.

Sentayehu has over the past 30 years coached an astounding number of world-beating stars, including the Bekele brothers, Kenenisa and Tariku, the Dibaba sisters, Tirunesh, Genzebe and Ejegayehu, as well as Derartu Tulu and many others.

His month-long visit to the UK is Sentayehu’s first trip outside Ethiopia, yet he spoke openly and with charisma about his career, his coaching methods and why his town, Bekoji – similar in size to Lewes – produces so many internationally successful runners, citing the importance of motivation, thorough recovery and training sessions tailored to suit athletes’ individual strengths.

Also contributing to the discussion was Lewes Athletic Club athlete David Bradford, who last month, with his brother Matt, spent two weeks training with Sentayehu in Bekoji.

David focussed on the differences between training in Lewes and Bekoji, drawing attention to how the large training group in Bekoji – between 150 and 200 athletes – gives rise to intra-group competitiveness and a strong collective spirit, whereas this is not possible in Lewes because there are relatively few competitive-standard runners.

To read more about the Bradford brothers’ experiences in Ethiopia, check out David’s blog: www.dbfreelance.co.uk/blog