Athletics: Paul Merrell

PUBLISHED: 12:02 17 February 2006 | UPDATED: 21:42 28 May 2010

Paul Merrell

Paul Merrell

WISBECH athletics coach Paul Merrell believes that substantial investment in athletics is required in order to prevent the sport disappearing from Fenland. Merrell, 46, a former international sprinter who now works as an electrician at Premier Foods in Lo

WISBECH athletics coach Paul Merrell believes that substantial investment in athletics is required in order to prevent the sport disappearing from Fenland.

Merrell, 46, a former international sprinter who now works as an electrician at Premier Foods in Long Sutton, is currently coaching five young athletes.

However, he believes that the lack of athletics facilities is driving promising athletes away from Fenland.

He said: "We shouldn't underestimate the potential of youngsters in the area and every effort should be made to create a centre of excellence and develop athletics coaching."

The coaching courses at The Queen's School, Wisbech in the spring will aim to bring more coaches like former Queen's student, Merrell to Fenland and in turn, the successes of Merrell's athletes could be repeated by other youngsters in a variety of sports.

Merrell said: "The training carried out on the track does not have to be limited to athletes. It also provides a basis on which to develop skills and disciplines in other sports."

Wisbech Town Hockey Club player Sam Blunt, 15, coached by Merrell since last summer, is a 12 second 100m sprinter and carries an unofficial national ranking within the top 25 in the under-15 boys' long jump.

Merrell said: "Sam's training on the track encompasses speed development and strength-building and this is benefiting his progress in other sports including hockey."

However, Merrell fears that the successes of Fenland athletes including Louise Hazel, Leah Parsons, Martin and Daniel Tinkler and Glen and Daniel Watts will become a thing of the past if something is not done.

He said: "We have not advanced the sport in Fenland and it shows how committed to the sport our youngsters need to be when they have to travel long distances to find a track."

n IN competition last week, Sam Blunt competed in the under-17 long jump and finished 10th.

Also in the long jump, Wisbech Grammar School student Katherine Stratton, 13, finished eighth in the final.

Last weekend, Katherine competed in the combined Eastern Counties and Norfolk Championships and won silver medals in both competitions.

Wisbech sprinter, Catherine England, 12, picked up a silver medal in the Norfolk Championships under-15 girls' 60m sprint, and finished sixth in the Eastern Counties final.

Shana Emanuelle, 14, won an Eastern Counties silver medal in the under-15 girls' 60m.

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