A former World Triathlon gold medal winner, who is now forging a successful career in community coaching in Edinburgh, has had her work recognised with a major award from sportscotland.
Loanhead GP Penny Rother won the ‘Community Coach of the Year’ award, at sportscotland’s prestigious national Coaching, Officiating and Volunteer Awards, for her commitment and dedication to the members of Edinburgh Road Club.
After suffering an injury running, Penny turned her attention to the other two sports involved in triathlon - swimming and cycling - to aid her recovery and has never looked back. She has now been taking part in triathlons for over 19 years, with her coaching career taking off in 2009.
Having met a group of women who wanted to balance some exercise with the pressures of work and family life, Penny has gone out of her way to help them fit training around their busy lifestyles. They are all now part of the triathlon section of the Edinburgh Road Club which makes up 25 per cent of the membership.
Penny coaches four hours a week with the club and even more during the summer months when she can get the team out on their bikes.
Now a level three coach, Penny has become an integral part of the coaching set up at Edinburgh Road Club and in 2013 she was part of the team that introduced a more structure planning process for training sessions to improve performances across the club.
Penny was shocked when she heard she had been nominated for Community Coach of the Year. She said: “It came as a complete surprise. I don’t do any more than lots of other coaches across the country, so I am really honoured to have been recognised.
“I just started because I wanted to help busy mums like me to make exercise part of their life. I have always had an active lifestyle so I’m passionate about helping people get back into exercise and to achieve their goals. “Throughout my coaching I’ve always tried to understand what people want to get out of sport which has really helped me over the years.”
Two of Penny’s team have since gone on to compete at world age group championships and they were full of praise for their coach of the year.
One of those, Ann Johnstone said: “As one of the ‘Porty Ladies’, - the name emanates from our training regime at Portobello Pool - Penny has taken us from a bunch of middle-aged women to the world championships. She makes us laugh and mops up our tears when we cry.”
Joanne Campbell said: “Penny dragged me in the first time, but she made it so easy for me to fit round my four children. She’s an inspiration and just makes me feel great.”
Penny was nominated for the award by Doug MacDonald, Coaching Development Officer, who was full of praise for the Edinburgh Road Club coach: “Penny has made an outstanding contribution to the local triathlon community through her coaching. Despite her busy schedule at work and training as one of Great Britain’s best age-group triathletes, Penny makes time to inspire and encourage to get involved in triathlon. “In particular, her work encouraging new mothers to get back into physical activity through triathlon has been truly exceptional.”
Stewart Harris, Chief Executive of sportscotland said: “Penny has really made a difference to the members of Edinburgh Road Club. Not only has she encouraged people back into exercise but she’s driven forward the development of the club through more structured training sessions and the results are really beginning to show.
“Our dedicated team of volunteer coaches across the country are so important to the development of sport so we are very proud to recognise the efforts made by Penny and all those who have been nominated for an award.”
The sportscotland national Coaching, Officiating and Volunteer Awards ceremony took place at the City Halls in Glasgow’s Candleriggs.