March 8 2014 Latest news:
Robin Cottle, Reporter
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
For Havering Mayesbrook coach Pat Gahagan, athletics is a way of life - and has been for the last 40 years.
The 52-year-old picked up the prestigious Doug Riden Lifetime Achivement award at the annual Havering Sports Council ceremony.
He won ahead of Hornchurch & Elm Park boxing trainer Tony Martin and Hylands tennis coach Georgio Bugnatelli and claims his success came as a “complete shock.”
Pat said: “It’s unusual for a 52-year-old to win a lifetime achievement award but it’s nice to be recognised. It normally goes to someone a little bit older.
“I’m very humble but my wife thinks I deserved it!
“Coaches usually help athletes pick up awards but the response to winning on social media has been really positive, I’m chuffed.”
Middle distance runner Pat packed in competing in 1990 when he was struck down by post viral syndrome.
His coach Warren Rowe suggested he take up coaching and he kept on coming down to the club because athletics had become a way of life for him since he took it up aged 12.
Despite his award Pat, who lives in Marshalls Park, has no plans to give up his life’s work just yet.
“It’s 40 years of my life but it seems like a lot more than that,” he said.
“I hope I can carry on doing this for years to come. One of our coaches, Warren Hope, is 73 and he’s still going strong!
“As long as the enthusiasm is there I’ll keep going. I do it for the love of the sport and passion still runs deep inside me.
“It’s better than sitting at home watching television anyway.”
Pat, who is an insurance claims negotiator by day, coaches four times a week and he was back out on the track putting youngsters through their paces in howling gales 48 hours after picking up his award.
He says it helps that his wife Leslie is also involved with the club or they’d hardly ever see each other.
But what is the secret to be a successful coach?
“The secret is good communication,” Pat explained. “With good communication you’re halfway there.
“Having to give up athletics was positive in a way because it got me into coaching.
“It’s a way of giving back to the community and when you see young athletes smiling when they’ve achieved something special, it really makes your day.”
Pat has lived in Havering since he was three years old and took up middle distance running after showing promise during PE classes at Campion School in Wingletye Lane in Hornchurch.
He has coached a range of athletes including former South of England 800m champion Sara Luck, but as long as they do their best, that’s all Pat asks of them.
We’ve got a waiting list at Havering Mayesbrook at the moment and there’s undoubtedly been a boost by the 2012 Olympics, it’s a great time to be involved in athletics in this country,” the former St Peter’s Catholic School, Romford student said.
“Everyone knows how much work we put into the club and there were lots of congratulations from parents and athletes after they found out we’d won the award.”