Athletics NI Coaching Conference 2016

An annual coaching conference in Belfast

The 2016 Northern Ireland Coaching Conference, hosted by Athletics NI, took place on Saturday 8th of October at University of Ulster Jordanstown. Building on the success of previous conferences the event involved a mixture of presentations and practical workshops.


Jonas Dodoo

Speed Development / Sprint Mechanics

Jonas Dodoo is a graduate of the British Athletics Elite Apprentice Coach Programme which ran for four years in the lead up to the London 2012 Olympics, working with world renowned coaches Dan Pfaff and Stuart McMillan, who now work at Altis in Phoenix Arizona. His experience in sport is not limited to Athletics, as he has worked with rugby for several years.

Since graduating from the Apprentice Coach programme, Jonas has been working closely with a number of talented young sprinters, with his most recent prodigy Chijindu Ujah (9.96s for 100m and 6.53 for 60m). Ujah, the 2013 European Junior 100m champion, is the youngest Briton to break the 10-second barrier. Since 2013, Jonas has also overseen the 2012 Olympic long jump champion, Greg Rutherford’s speed work while he trained in the UK.

Jonas started out coaching within elite rugby. He has worked with numerous England internationals, from Charlie Sharples to Jonny May, and currently acts as a consultant for the Bath Rugby team. After London 2012, Jonas set up Speed Works, providing future Olympic and Paralympic athletes a systematic approach to coaching and well-being. Jonas is the head of performance for his training group ‘Speed Works’. The goal of Speed Works is to provide integrated support for talented athletes exiting the junior ranks and thus transitioning talented junior athletes into high performing seniors.

Kelly Sotherton

Combined Events

Kelly Sotherton made her name on the international stage when she won bronze in the heptathlon at the 2004 Olympic Games before going on to win Commonwealth Gold In 2006 and World bronze in 2007. Kelly was also a talented 400m runner and represented GB and NI in the 4 x 400m relay at the 2008 Olympic Games. Since retiring from Athletics in 2012, Kelly has taken up coaching and works with a number of up and coming athletes at Birmingham Alexander Stadium. In addition to her coaching role Kelly is involved with sports governance and sits on the IAAF Women’s Committee and the UKA anti-doping committee. She is also the Birchfield Harriers’ team manager for the UK Women’s League and was GB team staff for European Under-23 Championships in Tallinn, Estonia.

Alan Richardson

Pole Vault / Youth Development

Alan is currently Director of Athletics as Millfield School in Somerset. The school offers some of the best sports facilities in England and has a dedicated Athletics youth development programme, which aims to attract the UK’s most talented youth and junior athletes. Alan joined Millfield School from British Athletics where he acted as Event Group Lead for the jumps and combined events. Prior to this Alan had worked as the British National Pole Vault Coach leading into the London 2012 Olympics where he led and coached on the UK’s Olympic Pole Vault programme. From 2012 to 2015 he also acted as head coach and team leader for the Great Britain under 20 teams at both World and European Championships as well as being named as head coach for field events for the England Glasgow Commonwealth Games team in 2014.

Alan’s current role at Millfield school sees him lead a team of coaches in developing and running a programme for athletes aged 13-18 ranging from participation based introductory coaching through to those competing at junior international level. In addition to his Athletics coaching work, Alan leads on coach development for the 35 professional coaches across all sports at Millfield.

Andy Hobdell

Endurance / Marathon

Andy Hobdell is the UK-based endurance coach responsible for Rio-bound Northern Irish marathoners Kevin Seaward and Paul Pollock. He has coached ten British and Irish internationals to Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth finals both indoor and outdoors on the track, and to World and Olympic qualifiers on the road. His athletes boast multiple national titles and medals from 800m up to marathon and cross country. Andy has also coached Dream Mile winner Andy Baddeley to a 3.49 mile, and a number one world ranking over that distance.

Richard Rodgers

Endurance / Steeplechase

Richard is the long time coach of breakthrough Steeplechaser Kerry O’Flaherty. In 2015 Kerry attended the Beijing World Championships and also set a Northern Irish record in the Steeplechase. In 2016 Kelly qualified for the Rio Olympic Games for Ireland. Richard was a founding member of Newcastle AC in 1981, where he still assists many athletes including Seamus Lynch and Shalene McMurray who recently made their Northern Irish Cross Country debut in Greenmount

Tom Reynolds

Endurance / Steeplechase

Tom is Athletics NI’s Athlete Development Lead and coaches athletes across a variety of events. He coached his brother Ben Reynolds to the Northern Ireland record in the 110m Hurdles and in 2014 began working with Richard Rodgers to improve Kerry O’Flaherty’s hurdling technique.

Kathy Hetherington

Asthma and the Endurance Athlete

Kathy Hetherington is a physiotherapist and Clinical Research Fellow at Queens University Belfast who focuses on Asthma and the less well known Vocal Chord Dysfunction (VCD). Kathy’s pioneering research focuses on ways to personalise treatment to specific populations as well as developing methods to ensure existing asthma suffers take their medication effectively.

Alan Richardson

Youth Development

Jonas Dodoo

Speed Development

Richard Rodgers & Tom Reynolds


Kathy Hetherington

Asthma, VCD and Endurance

Andy Hobdell

Marathon Preparation

University of Ulster, Jordanstown

The Jordanstown campus is located just seven miles north of Belfast city centre. Sport plays a significant part in the life of the campus. It is home to the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland , a partnership between the University and Sport Northern Ireland. Buildings are structured around a central mall allowing students to walk from one end of the campus to the other without going outside. The mall area is home to a bank, restaurants, coffee shops, sandwich bars, a supermarket, the chaplains' office and the Students' Union. The main building is surrounded by lawns and trees and is just a few hundred metres from Loughshore Park and promenade.

Frequently Asked Questions

When will the presentations and video be online?

We have already begun to upload content from the conference. All content should be online by Christmas 2016. Please check back regularly to or sign up to the Newsletter from the home page.