Podcast: Coaching Voices with International Jumping Coach Frank Attoh

In a conversation with hosts Tom McNab and Alex Seftel, Frank, who in his youth was an avid footballer, table tennis and basketball player, recalls how he got started in the triple jump as a teenager.

“On my second try, I broke the school record and that was the start. I just fell in love with track and field because there were immediate wins.”

What followed was the opportunity to compete in English Schools, which gave her fond memories of having to multitask between the triple jump and the track.

“I did my last jump and then ran to the relay,” Frank recalls. “I think we came first in the relay and then my schoolteacher said ‘do you realize you came third in the triple jump?’ I had no idea!”

He later found that motivation was harder to find after getting injured and training alone in the dark at Copthall (now called StoneX Stadium). “I started thinking about training and recovering something that I had earned in the sport. It was great to be able to give some experience and see the mistakes I made. I went ahead and corrected that with other athletes.”

The Shaftesbury Barnet Harrier also recalls the Black Power salute from the 1968 Olympics, a famous moment when those on the podium in Mexico City raised their fists in an act of racial protest.

“We need to talk about what they did because it was just amazing that they actually had the guts to show it,” Frank believes. “Then it was difficult for them not to be able to compete in more Olympic Games.”

On the topic of diversity and equality in athletics today, he states:

“We still have a lot of work to do. But it is a fairer sport than if it were football or rugby”.

His comments come at the time of a report from the Black Footballers Partnership, which speaks on behalf of current and former players, that there has been “no real change” in the number of black former players hired in management or executive roles at professional football, ranking 57th out of 1,304 positions in England and Wales.

“I think we are trying, but there is still a long way to go,” adds Frank, who believes that fairness in athletics has been helped by the objectivity that comes with using measurements to decide the best.

The episode ends with a tribute to close friend Lloyd Cowan, with Frank co-leading a scholarship scheme in his memory along with former athlete Christine Ohuruogu and others, following Lloyd’s death in 2021.

“I would give time to any coach, to any athlete who needed it. He was just an immense person to be around.”

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Photo of Frank Attoh with Greg Rutherford (Gothenburg 2006) by Mark Shearman


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