Sue Brydges swore she would never get back on the running track.
But when daughter Grace (14) wanted to get involved with North Otago Athletics, the lure was too strong to keep her away.
Brydges, who previously coached the Alexandra Athletics Club for six years, moved to Oamaru more than four years ago but only joined the North Otago club as a coach last season.
‘‘I think it was my own child and wanting to create a really positive environment for her to succeed, and knowing what I got out of it socially, the discipline and the mental and physical fitness you get,’’ Brydges said.
The former 800m runner coaches a core group of 11 competitive secondary school athletes, some of whom previously trained with fellow club member Schulyer Orr, and the others ‘‘just sort of turned up’’.
‘‘It became really social and it just gathered momentum — it’s kind of bizarre how it happened really.’’
The group is filled with runners, long jumpers and high jumpers creating some impressive results.
Jed Jabagat and Liam Prouting-Gardner are ranked ninth nationally for under-18 long jump and 400m sprint respectively. Sarah Jamison, who attends Brydges’ sessions but receives coaching in Dunedin, is also nationally ranked in hurdles.
‘‘It’s quite extraordinary athletes who train on a grass track are nationally ranked. It’s incredible.’’
Liam, Jed, and Grace recently started attending sessions in Timaru to become familiar on an athletics track.
‘‘The grass track is awesome but it doesn’t give you the experience of racing on a track particularly the bends.’’
Coaching in North Otago helped reignite her passion, and Brydges said she wanted to gain her athletics coaching qualifications.
She was coaching from techniques she learned as an athlete from Allan and Sylvia Potts, who competed at the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, when Brydges was growing up in Wellington.
‘‘Nothing’s really, changed I’ve got to say. It’s still the same principles — it’s really interesting.’’
Athletics was a great sport for providing the basic skills for other codes, as it taught people how to breathe, run efficiently and race.
‘‘How to race is a particular feeling and it’s a little bit outside your comfort zone but it’s OK and that’s what they’re learning.
‘‘There’s not a lot of sports where you get to switch your muscles on like that and it’s cool when the kids come for the first time . . . and can’t believe it.’’
Athletics also made it ‘‘really easy’’ to show people how to achieve their goals.
‘‘It’s just one of those fun things where you can do what you’ve been asked to do for a few seconds, a minute, whatever and then outside of that you get to have a laugh.’’