Paul Darney

Paul DarneyThe backbone of British Athletics has always been its club system supported within by an army of enthusiastic, willing and able volunteers. Paul Darney is one of these and is one of the most familiar faces at Cardiff AAC’s headquarters at Leckwith. He has served the club faithfully and successfully in the roles of athlete, coach and President (twice) in an athletics career that has spanned over 50 years.

When Paul joined Birchgrove Harriers in 1959 as a fresh-faced 17 year old, he could never have imagined that 41 yrs later he would be sitting in the Olympic Stadium in Sydney, Australia as the coach of two G.B. athletes competing in the Olympic Games. Back in the 1960’s Paul was one of Wales’s most successful middle -distance runners both on the track and cross country. He won five Welsh senior track titles, three over 6 miles and two over 3 miles ( N.B. now 10,000m and 5,000m).

Over the country he was part of a group of runners that formed the nucleus of the successful Birchgrove Harriers team that swept all before them in terms of Welsh Cross Country titles. Paul led Birchgrove to their first Welsh Team title in1966. Prior to 1973, Wales, along with the other U.K. home countries, ran as individual nations in the International Cross Country Championships. These were the forerunners of today’s World Cross Country Championships. Paul ran for Wales in two of these.

In 1968 Birchgrove and Roath Harriers, both of which had a long history, merged to form Cardiff Amateur Athletics Club based at Maindy Stadium and immediately became one of Britain’s most successful clubs. Masters Competitions did not exist in 1974, so as Paul’s running career came to an end, he began coaching and helping out in various other roles within the Cardiff Club. During this same year he changed his work career from a draughtsman to working for the National Health Service. He trained in organisational methods at Leicester Technical College and went on to conduct various projects in NHS departments. The skills learned from this experience have been used with success in coaching athletes.

In 1981 Paul qualified as a Senior Coach for Middle Distance and became Welsh Junior Middle Distance Event Coach. He was Coach to the Welsh Cross Country Squad at training camps in Portugal in 1985 and 1986. At the Welsh Track and Field Championships in 2001 three runners in Paul’s training squad won titles. Thomas James, the Cardiff Blues and Wales rugby player won the u15 boys  1500m title, Anne Marie Hutchinson won the Senior Women’s 1500m title and Christian Stephenson won the Senior Men’s 1500m title.

Few club coaches ever have the chance of coaching elite athletes. It is a rare privilege and a huge challenge which test the coach’s ability to the full. Success is never guaranteed but has to be earned by both coach and athlete. In the 1990’s two gifted athletes, who were also excellent competitors , came Paul’s way. They were Christian Stephenson and Andres Jones. Paul as coach would take them all the way to the Olympic Games of 2000 in Sydney, Australia. He attended as an officially accredited member of the G.B. Coaching Squad supervising both athletes’ training sessions at the Pre Games Training Camp on Australia’s Gold Coast before moving on to compete at the Olympic Games at Sydney.

Paul started coaching Christian in 1985 (aged 15). This partnership continued until 2001 with a short break of 6 months then finally until 2002. Andres joined Paul in 1999 to train with a high quality club group in Cardiff until August 2002. Below are listed the achievements of these two gifted athletes.

by Gwyn Williams, 2011

Notable Athletes

Christian Stephenson

1993 Junior Man Highlights

1st - Margate International XC senior men’s race
1st - B.A.F. 10K Junior Road Championship
1st - UK team XC race in Italy
1st - Inter Counties/World XC JM Trials, Corby
1st - Welsh Junior XC title
1st - Welsh 3k Junior track title
2nd - AAA’s 3k Junior Championships
8th - European 5k Junior Championships Italy
28th - World Junior XC Championships, Spain

1st - BAF Junior 10k Road Championships
1st - Margate SM XC International
1st - Welsh Senior 1500m
1st - Welsh 3k Inter Counties
2nd - UK Inter Counties Junior XC
2nd - Welsh SM XC Championships
10th - 5 Mills XC International Italy
17th - UK World SM XC Trials

Eikenden  Japan track (20) 5k 14.04.18

Senior Man Highlights

1st - Welsh SM XC Championships
6th - UK SM XC Trials
72nd - World SM XC Championships

1st - Welsh SM XCC
1st - Eikenden Relays Japan track 5k, 13.53.40
UK Team European Champs

1st - Inter Counties XC Championships
13th - IAAF XC Seville International
1st - Welsh XC Championships
2nd - BAF World XC Trials
38th - World XC Championships Italy
1st - Welsh 1500m Championships
UK XC Team in European Championships Portugal
2nd - Welsh XC Championships
25th - European XC Championships Portugal

1st - Wells 5k (Road) 14.01 fastest in UK
1st - Welsh 1500m Championship
1st - AAA’s 3k s/c Championships
5th - World Cup 3k s/c South Africa
6th - Commonwealth Games, Kuala Lumpur, 3ks s/c final
9th - Commonwealth Games, Kuala Lumpur, 1500m final

1st - International Meeting 3k s/c
1st - AAA’s 3k s/c: AAA’s 6 Stage Road Relay fastest leg
4th - Inter Counties & UK World XC Trials
6th - UK team, Europa Cup 3k s/c
20th - UK team European XC Champs
52nd - World XC Championships Belfast

1st - Welsh 1500m Champs
1st - AAA’s 3k s/c
1st - BMC 3k s/c Olympic Qualifying Standard
Olympic Games, Sydney, 3k s/c heat

5th - Inter Counties UK 4k World XC Trials
1st - Welsh XC Champs
38th - World 4k XC Champs

Commonwealth Games, Manchester, 3k s/c semi final

Andres Jones

U23/Senior Man Highlights

1st - AAA’s U23 10k Championships
4th - 3k UK U23 International team
European U23 10k Championships, Sweden

1st - Inter Area 10k Road Race
1st - Inter Counties 10k Championships
1st - BMC 3k 8.04 June
5th - BMC 3k Cardiff 7.54 July
1st - AAA’s Olympic Trials, 10k Olympic Qualifying time July
14th - Grand Prix Crystal Palace 5k 13.39
1st - AAA’s 5k Championships (only 2nd time 5k/10k won)
13th Olympic Games, Sydney, 10k semi final (Missed final qualification by 1.7secs)

Commonwealth Games, Manchester, 10,000m Final

Welsh Athletics Ltd.
Cardiff International Sports Stadium
Leckwith Road
Cardiff. CF11 8AZ.

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