Edward's Story

It's not enough for 60 year-old Edward to travel to numerous sessions in Swansea and Cardiff each week to coach his 25 athletes. He even designed and built his own mobile pole vault runway that gets shipped to different locations in a removal van.

But it is success on the track that is giving the athlete-turned-coach a reason to celebrate.

"I've got a very good group of athletes and we pretty much dominate the Welsh Championships,"says Thompson, originally from Brecon but now living in Saron, near Ammanford.

"We also took a couple of medals at the British Championships this year.

"I'd been a vaulter since my school days. I was quite good at it and it gave me an extra incentive that I was better than the bigger boys at the school and I could get one over them. Most of all I like the sport because it's a bit different.

"I trained at the athletics club in Brecon and there were a few others who wanted to train with me, so there was a natural progression to coaching. There's actually quite a bit of talent about and lots of kids who want to get into the sport, which is very pleasing."

Now part of a mentoring programme with the national performance coach, Edward has created a Pole Vault Association to help athletes with access to equipment. With Welsh Athletics and Cardiff Metropolitan University he has even built a portable pole vault runway as a teaching tool for young vaulters.

"We used to hire a mobile runway from UK Athletics but there were big costs involved,"adds Thompson.

"It took about four months to design and build one for ourselves. Most of all we get variety and flexibility in training if venues are unavailable or we want to try something different. We can use it any day of the week. We're planning to take it to Cardiff Bay next summer for the women's championships and we can showcase the sport to the public. I've got a good deal with a furniture removal company in Bridgend to ship it around for us."

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