Session planning, prescribing training, nutritional advice, anti-doping, mechanics… the women on the latest UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC) coaching course are arming themselves with a wide range of skills and knowledge to take back to their respective countries.
Ten women from as many countries and all five continents are currently at the UCI WCC in Aigle, Switzerland, on the UCI / Olympic Solidarity course. At the end of the two weeks the successful participants will come away with the UCI Level 2 coaching certificate plus the Level 1 mechanics certificate. In addition, they are attending the new two-day soigneur seminar.
“The course is amazing,” enthuses Monessa Horton, Secretary General of the Guam Cycling Federation who is on the course to bring her coaching skills up to scratch. “Cycling in Guam has exploded in the last 10 years and continues to grow. The course is helping me dispel old theories and principles. It is a sport that has evolved and continues to evolve.”
Focusing mainly on development, the Guam coach is working with her Federation to take bikes to schools and ensure every primary school student has an opportunity to ride a bike and learn basic skills while having fun. In Switzerland, Monessa Horton particularly appreciates the exchanges with fellow women coaches: “It’s the first time I am surrounded by like-minded individuals. We all come from different countries, but we share the same challenges. It’s a big world but we’re not that different.”
Her enthusiasm is shared by Swaziland’s Mandisa Simelane, a recreational rider with the Inyatsi Cycling Club.
“I’m learning so much here, particularly regarding skills. Back home, I started taking on a coaching role in my club without really noticing, but we can make a lot of improvements as a team.”
Although mainly motivated by the idea of coaching other women and children, she said she would not hesitate correcting men if she saw they were making mistakes.
The coaching and mechanics course involves a combination of theory and practical sessions. The women benefit from the expert advice and instruction of the UCI WCC coaches, the mechanics tutor and staff from the UCI’s Legal Anti-doping Service. They have also been able to observe international para-cyclists currently training at the UCI WCC in the lead-up to the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships.
The UCI WCC Head of Performance and Education, Belinda Tarling, explained that the current course had been organised following on from the success of a similar UCI / Olympic Solidarity initiative in 2018.
“We continue to work to ensure there are qualified women coaches worldwide, which is an important step towards the continued professionalism of women’s cycling,” said Belinda Tarling. “This year our course participants have the added bonus of attending our first soigneur’s seminar, which will add to the depth of their knowledge.”
Open to anyone interested in athlete welfare, the two-day soigneur seminar covers topics such as the biomechanics of cycling, injury and rehabilitation, health and recovery and athlete wellbeing, with sessions led by experts including the UCI WCC physiotherapist and the UCI Medical Director.
The women on the current course represent Brazil, Slovakia, Guam, Portugal, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Nigeria, El Salvador, Thailand and Swaziland. The women’s course is part of the UCI Coach Development Programme.