Charles van Commenee

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Charles is the Head Coach of UK Athletics and one of the most respected athletics coaches in the world. Additionally, he has personally coached athletes to international medals, including Denise Lewis, Kelly Sotherton and Huang Zhihong.

Charles Van Commenee first became involved in coaching at the age of eighteen; he began teaching children while studying for a degree in physical education. After completing his military service in 1981 Charles dedicated his time to coaching and in 1987 was appointed as the Dutch javelin team coach. Building upon this success, in 1992 Charles was promoted to technical director of combined events and throws by the Dutch athletics federation.

In 1994 Charles started working with British athlete Denise Lewis. Impressed with his work, Denise moved to Amsterdam to train with Charles in 1997. Under Charles, Denise would go on to become champion at both the Commonwealth Games and European Championships in 1998 before taking a silver medal at the 1999 World Championships. At the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games Denise took gold to become Olympic Champion. She put much of her success and ‘drive to win’ down to the fact that Charles had been so focused.

Following his success with Denise Lewis, in 2001 Charles was appointed by UK Athletics as the technical director for jumps and combined events. As director he took on responsibilities for British athletes including Dean Macey, Ashia Hansen and Jonathan Edwards, though they all retained personal coaches. Two years later Kelly Sotherton joined Charles’ training group. Ranked 57th in the world for the heptathlon, Kelly went onto to win the bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

Following his continued success with many of Britain’s top athletes, Charles was in 2004 considered for the position of UK Athletics head of performance. Ultimately however, Charles decided to leave the UK in favour of becoming technical director of the Netherlands athletics team. After another successful period in the Netherlands, where he was to lead them to their second-highest ever Olympic medal tally at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Charles returned to the UK to take up the position of national head coach in January 2009.

Charles has been dubbed the ‘‘Volcano’’, the disciplinarian Dutchman makes a habit of exceeding targets and pushing his athletes to the limit.

He is perfect for Senior Leadership Conferences as he challenges delegates to really push themselves in order to be the best that they can possibly be. He is meticulous in the detail, planning and preparation that is required for a team to perform at the very highest level.

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