Veteran Paisley Daily Express journalist Derek Parker has picked up a prestigious sports award – for his work away from the newsroom as an athletics coach.
As well as working full-time as a reporter, Derek spends much of his time trackside or compiling training schedules, and has been named Performance Coach of the Year at the scottishathletics Annual Awards.
The 62-year-old is a coach with Kilbarchan Amateur Athletic Club and won the award for his work with top Scots athletes such as Hayley Haining, who helped the Great Britain team, led by Paula Radcliffe, to bronze medal success in the marathon at this year’s World Championships in Finland.
He also works with Kilbarchan AAC athletes Ross Toole, Andrew Gibson and Claire Gibson.
Derek said: “I get a great deal of pleasure out of coaching and I’m very proud to receive this award.
“I’m not involved for the glory, I just enjoy helping people. I feel that I can contribute something to society by helping athletes to maximise their potential as sportsmen and women and also as human beings.”
Derek first got involved in athletics as a teenager in the 1960s, and competed as a sprinter with the Paisley Harriers club.
He has completed around 50 half marathons and has run the London Marathon twice, but has enjoyed most success as a coach, inspiring athletes to compete at Olympic Games, World Championship, European and Commonwealth standard.
Derek said: “I like to think of myself as a democratic coach. Coaching is a two-way street and it’s important to discuss things with the athlete.
“I learn as much from the athletes as they learn from me. As long as they are happy with their performances then I’m happy for them.
“My work with Kilbarchan AAC is a big commitment.
“I’m involved in coaching most nights, whether it is at Johnstone High School or at Linwood Sports Centre, and it also takes up a lot of my time at weekends but it’s something I enjoy thoroughly.
“There’s more to coaching than just standing at the side of a running track shouting out instructions at athletes. You need to spend a lot of time compiling training schedules and you must keep up to date with the latest developments in training methods and things like nutrition and psychology.
“Everything I do as a coach is geared towards trying to help each athlete attain peak performance at the right time.”
Around 300 people attended the scottishathletics Annual Awards at the Strathclyde Hilton in Bellshill, including athletics legends Liz McColgan, Yvonne Murray and Steve Cram, as well as Sports Minister Patricia Ferguson.
The event was hosted by former Commonwealth 400m silver medallist Allison Curbishley, who now works as a sports presenter on BBC radio.
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