Master Coach: Brother Colm O’Connell and the Kenyan Runners

I’m curious how many business coaches and consultants would be comfortable adopting Brother Colm O’Connell’s approach to coaching.  Brother O’Connell arrived in St. Patrick’s High School in Iten, Kenya almost 40 years ago and is the man behind numerous Olympic and World Championship Gold medallists such as former 800m world record holder Wilson Kipketer and that distance’s current world record holder David Rudisha.

Man on a Mission: Brother O’Connell and the Rise of Kenyan Athletics  – The IFTA award-winning documentary presented by Irish athletics legend Eamonn Coughlan – is an enthralling portrait of a humble man who like most of the great coaches reveals that there really is no secret sauce or methodology to his success.

“I always learned to listen to the athletes and to learn through trial and error what works and what doesn’t work…To this day I still practice and take that approach as a coach.”

“Having coached Wilson Kipketer as a young person…and then the man who broke his record [David] Rudisha, I’m probably being looked upon as some kind of guru in 800m coaching, which I would consider myself very far from.”

“Kids who come to the shcool before you even coach them have already put in place certain fundametals regarding running, for example they run to school, they run to market, the run for water, they run for firewood.  They play a lot outdoors, because the climate is conducive to outdoor activity…All I’m doing as a coach is taking what’s already in the athlete and developing it from within.  Rather than I coming with any fixed formula or format and saying “this is what you have to do to become an athlete.” You have to be carefull to always keep in mind what the athlete is bringing to you first.


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