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Why unheralded Maguire landed BBC Sports Personality of the Year's top coach award

 

By Adam McKendry

While Jonathan Rea grabbed all the headlines for finishing a splendid second in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award, there was another local success to cheer.

If some people thought the triple World Superbike champion wasn't exactly a household name (he is now), what about Strabane's Stephen Maguire who was named Coach of the Year at the ceremony in Liverpool for his work with the Great British men's 4x100m relay team over the past 12 months?

Maguire, who is GB head coach for sprints, hurdles and relays, received the award along with the coaches he works with in the team, Benke Blomkvist and Christian Malcolm.

It was an outstanding year for British track runners, with all four relay teams winning medals at the World Athletics Championships in London in August.

The women's 4x100m and 4x400m teams both took silvers, and the men's 4x400m came home with bronze.

However, undoubtedly the best success came from the men's 4x100m team, who defied the odds and saw off strong favourites Jamaica and the USA to secure gold.

Their winning time of 37.47 seconds was the third fastest in history and led to emotional celebrations after the final runner, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, crossed the finish line.

The coaching trio took home the same award from the UK Coaching Awards last month, while Maguire was named High Performance Coach of the Year by UK Athletics - however, the SPOTY prize is undoubtedly a much higher accolade.

"We are delighted to accept this award on behalf of the whole team effort that resulted in relay success at the World Championships in London," Maguire said after receiving the award on Sunday.

"In particular we would like to thank the individual athletes and their coaches for their support of the relay programme along with the support staff and the wider team.

"The guys did fantastically well to win the world title in the 4x100m in London.

"It came together that night, I was afraid to look at the screen but the guys did an unbelievable job.

"We have an extremely talented group of sprinters and a great group of coaches around them.

"We hope to achieve more success on the track as we head towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games."

Maguire has been one of the best track coaches in Great Britain for many years, and his record speaks for itself.

His coaching has already been recognised before when he was named Northern Ireland's Sports Coach of the Year in 2006.

Winning the SPOTY Coach of the Year award was, arguably, only a matter of time for the 53-year-old, who now lives in England with his wife and family.

Having first worked with Athletics Ireland, Maguire became the personal trainer for then up-and-coming Paralympic athlete Jason Smyth in 2003, with their partnership leading to four Paralympic gold medals.

Upon ending his coaching stint with Smyth in 2012, Maguire took up the role of Director of Athletics in Scotland before moving on to the Team GB setup in 2014.

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