Sprint coach aiming to put Wisbech on the map
By ADAM LAZZARI IN his final conversation with his dying grandmother former national league sprinter Paul Merrell was told to ensure that his God-given gift to run fast did not go to waste. Those words have inspired Merrell, 50, to help some of Wisbech s
By ADAM LAZZARI
IN his final conversation with his dying grandmother former national league sprinter Paul Merrell was told to ensure that his God-given gift to run fast did not go to waste.
Those words have inspired Merrell, 50, to help some of Wisbech's most promising young sportsmen and women towards achieving their maximum potential.
He has also overcome a great deal of adversity, including a life-threatening bone marrow-disease to his right leg when 13 and a life-changing wrist injury which ended his career as an electrician.
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He is preparing to set up a coaching business, Merrell Speed Development, in April.
Merrell said: "I've been lucky enough to train with some top international athletes and coaches and I have a lot to give back to sport.
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"The work I've done is voluntary and I'm now looking to make a living from coaching. But it's not about money; I get satisfaction seeing the improvements I can bring to young athletes."
We reported last week that Merrell helped Wisbech-based South African Rudie Van der Merwe secure selection for the British amateur rugby league team and 12-year-old Jamie Horne, from Newton, win a county high jumping title.
Merrell, a qualified UK Strength and Conditioning Association coach, has also helped Wisbech-based sprinter Ross McConnachie, 17, reach the top 10 in Scotland for his age group and he also coaches one of Fenland Running Club's most promising runners, Rebecca Cousins.
In the last 48 months he has coached between 35 and 40 of Britain's top 100 age group runners and nine national finalists.
Merrell, who travelled the world as a 60m and 100m sprinter in the 1980s also coaches rugby, hockey and tennis players and believes can help people to improve their performance in almost any sport.
Merrell's personal best for 100m is 10.40 seconds.
He ran for clubs in Australia and Germany and competed in the National Athletics League while representing Edinburgh Athletic Club.
He has been coached by George McNeal, former professional world sprinting champion and world record holder for 120 yards, with 11.19 seconds.
Merrell also includes his grandfather George Merrell, who was a professional middle-distance runner, grandmother Eva Merrell, and parents Ray and Brenda, as inspirations.
He said: "My grandfather used to run in front of thousands of people and he and my parents always encouraged me.
"I remember returning to my grandparents' home several years ago after winning a race. My grandmother was dying of cancer and in her last conversation with me she told me that God had given me a gift to run fast and that I should not waste it.
"There is so much potential in this area and I want to ensure that people get the chance to fulfil that. We could draw some really positive attention to Wisbech for our sporting success.