Female coaches discuss their experiences in the sport at WISH course ahead of IWD
In late February, 31 female coaches from 21 nations and 9 different sports came together in North London for the Olympic Solidarity-funded WISH course. Designed to give more women the tools to progress to the top of high performance coaching, it was the second week-long event of its kind and, once again, World Triathlon coaches were there to benefit for the expert leadership. As part of the the 2023 International Women’s Day, they revealed some of their experiences on the journey towards high performance coaching.
Among the coaches was Annie Anderson, a former Swedish elite triathlete-turned coach now responsible for the Swedish Olympic Committee’s Project Q at the Sport Education High School, of which triathlon is a central part. The only female coach of five, Annie closely felt the lack of women when she was competing.
“The sport was a lot of travelling, I had a little problem with eating disorders and I wasn’t feeling well when I quit in 2011. I had many great coaches, but I feel It would have been much better if I’d had more female coaches to understand and ask questions. It was really tough but I learned a lot from my own experiences to bring to my coaching. You need to see the overall person to get the results – sleeping, eating, taking care of wellbeing, not only what is going on at training.”
Ozenc Aygun was representing Turkey on the course and was eager to absorb as much as possible to take back home and pass on to those who, like her, have ambitions of coaching at an Olympic Games.
“I want to work with more people around the world and I have a lot to offer them, and share what I know as a female performance coach with others. Our NF has a good vision for how we can grow together and I am thankful and grateful to them that I am on this course.”
A former pro triathlete-turned coach, Tine Deckers joined the Belgian coaching team in 2019 and in January became the elite coach accompanying the country’s athletes on the WTCS circuit.
“In Belgium, we have equity but there are fewer women who are willing to do the travel, the 24/7 lifestyle. I had to consider it too when I took the job. My son is 10 now, he called me three times during this week because he misses me and it hurts, you know. I feel the athletes are happy to have a woman on the team now looking out for them, but it wasn’t something I ever missed as an athlete.”
Carolina Mora was nominated to attend the WISH course by the Costa Rica Federation because of her 15 years of dedication to the art of coaching and knowledge-sharing.
“This experience will work for us and empower more women to follow us into coaching,” she says. “It was nice to be with people who share my experiences, even those from more ‘powerful’ countries who have been through the same challenges. We as women sometimes don’t speak up, and don’t have many role models, so it’s not easy to grow.”
Eleanor Condor is part of the World Triathlon Mentor Programme and works full-time in the Triathlon Ireland development team, a department where women out-number men 6:1 and where progressive solutions are at the heart of the Federation.
“We’ve had a huge progression in women in the sport in general under the lead of Anna Grealish, but particularly in coaching, offering so many opportunities, specific courses for women, the New To Tri programme, and chances to shadow other coaches as well,” said Condor. “The big learning from the course is that all women face the same barriers, and I was never that comfortable talking about it, but now I know the support networks are out there to overcome the obstacles. Now I have some tools to be the leader and not just to follow.”
“The programme is fantastic, but why do we have to have them in the first place? The more women are empowered, the more natural it becomes to be treated fairly and equally.”