Interview with Head Coach, Chris Millard

How well do you know North Somerset Athletic Club’s Head Coach? We sat down with Chris to talk through his athletics journey since his ‘eureka’ moment watching Linford Christie at the Barcelona Olympics and becoming an international athlete himself.

Q: Has athletics always been your sport?

A: Not really. Like other kids I was into football during my younger days, spending six years with Bristol City and a further 18 months with Leeds United junior football teams. After representing County and Regional teams, the highlight of my football career would have to be meeting the legendary striker Allan Clarke, who was then the manager at Leeds United, when I signed for the club.

Q: So, how did you land up catching the athletics bug?

A: Odd as it may seem, it was watching Linford Christie win the 100m at the Barcelona Olympic Games – on my stag night – on 1st August 1992! I said that ‘one day I will do that’ – sprinting rather than running at the Olympics! Less than a year later, aged 27, I found myself on the track at Yate (for an Avon League meeting), wearing trainers, normal shorts, not using blocks, no warm-up, no clue, ‘having a go’… and winning the race.

Q: Within four short years you were representing Wales in the 100m and 200m as a senior athlete, as well as winning bronze medals at the Welsh National championships at 200m in 1995, 1996 and 1997; what motivated you to go from zero to the international stage?

A: A deep desire to win, mixed with a genuine hatred of losing, and not wanting to embarrass myself, meant I trained ridiculously hard to achieve my goals, and all that has happened since has been a result of this.

Q: When and how did the transition from competing to coaching come about:

A: My coaching journey started back in 1996, helping at my stepson’s football team, as well as supporting the coaching team at Clevedon Athletic Club on and off until 2004. I recognised during this time there was a need to develop a whole athletics curriculum and, off the back an illness, I realised a coaching career was something that I needed to pursue.

Within 12 months I had become qualified in a variety of areas and sports, quit my office job, and set up North Somerset Athletic Club (NSAC) in 2004. I had started a Saturday morning SAQ (Speed, Agility and Quickness) group at Clevedon in 2001, so used this as the springboard.

Q: Why did you decide to establish a junior athletics club?

A: My goal was, and still is, to give every child who comes to the club the absolute best experience of this exhilarating sport, and to drive NSAC towards being one of the top junior clubs in the UK together with eastablishing a specialist facility in North Somerset.

Alongside this I strive to improve the athletics provision in schools, whether it be with advice on setting up running clubs, development of a mini-marathon, or helping teachers understand more about our sport to enable them to deliver quality sessions.

Q: A goal that you have achieved is the athletics track and facility at Clevedon School, which has now been named ‘The Chris Millard Track’ in recognition of your commitment to both the club and athletics for children. What are your personal aims for 2024?

A: My sights are currently set on taking part in the World Master Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden from 13-25 August this year.

I would like to rack up 50 National Titles (currently on 44 titles), 20 National Records (on 15 presently), bag a Gold medal at the Masters Games (to compliment the Silver and Bronze ones and complete a full set) and to set a World Masters Record, having had one denied previously by an admin error!

Whether this is realistic or not remains to be seen, as the last 10 years have been interrupted by constant injuries… Watch this space!

For further information about Chris, head over to Our Coaches page and read his profile.

Come and join the club as either an athlete, coach or volunteer by dropping us a line at our online contact form.

Prospective junior members can sign up for a free trial here.

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