Ans Botha and Helena Duplantis are among the speakers at online International Festival of Athletics Coaching conference this weekend

Earlier this year the International Festival of Athletics Coaching (IFAC) was one of the first big events in the sport to be called off due to coronavirus. It was due to take place in Loughborough in March but with the pandemic already spreading through Europe some coaches were unable to travel to the UK for it.

Now, though, it has been re-arranged for this weekend (November 6-8) as a virtual event called “Virtual IFAC 2020” with a host of experts poised to deliver online lectures.

Speakers include Ans Botha, the coach of Wayde van Niekerk, plus Helena Duplantis, coach to Mondo Duplantis – a real coup for the conference given that their athletes are world record-holders.

In addition there is multiple Paralympic wheelchair racing gold medallist Chantal Petitclerc and Dawn Scott, the physical preparation manager for the England women’s football team who previously worked with the World Cup-winning United States team.

There are also talks from coaches Frank Dick, Charles van Commenee, Malcolm Arnold and Vern Gambetta, among others, while in addition to world-class coaches there are leaders in science and emerging technology such as Artificial Intelligence.

Professor Dick, president of the European Athletics Coaches’ Association, says: “No one can dispute that 2020 has been a most remarkable year. For EACA it started as a year of celebration, marking 60 years since its birth following the 1960 Rome Olympics.

“Then for the athletics coaches of Europe and the world, their athletes and all member federations, it became a frustrating struggle to understand and cope with the chaos and danger of the life threatening Covid-19 virus.

“But this struggle created a powerful chemistry for us to step up and do what we must to win the game of change in life. That meant being adaptable, creative, innovative and resilient to turn uncertainty and adversity to advantage. Because that’s what we must do as coaches.”

The Virtual IFAC 2020 conference will also offer a first glimpse of World Athletics’ E-learning platform and its potential advantage for coaches and member federations plus insight into a project that EACA and the other area coaches associations have been working closely with World Athletics and the area federations to bring to fruition: the Global Athletics Coaching Academy.

Virtual IFAC 2020 will take place on November 6-8 over seven separate sessions, each lasting around 2 hours 30 minutes, consisting of two presentations and a panel discussion with the opportunity for attendees to send questions to the panel.

Opening on Friday evening with the first session, Saturday and Sunday shall each bring a morning, afternoon and evening session (UK/Europe time), with a reasonable break in between the sessions. Each session will be recorded and available at the end of each day for attendees to access on line, so they will not miss a minute.

This also means that colleagues in different time zones can access all of the content and even utilising modern technology to provide live translation using subtitles, to open up the content to even more coaches around the world, where English is not the first language.

Access and information on Virtual IFAC 2020 will all be driven through the newly relaunched EACA website.

Shaun Pickering, the coach and former shot putter, adds: “IFAC has always looked to combine excellence in coaching, from athletics and also other sports, with the best in science and industry so that coaches from all sports can learn from the best in their particular fields, to enhance their skills as a coach in an ever changing environment.”

Virtual IFAC 2020 costs €99 but AW subscribers can have access to a special rate of €79 for 20 hours worth of content using the code IFAC2020-AW and this discount can be applied when signing up via the website.

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