Ipswich mentor looks outside the square

IPSWICH athletics coach Brad Robinson enjoys getting out on the water and freshwater fishing at every opportunity.


But it’s with water of a different type that he helps other people gain satisfaction.

The Ipswich and District Athletics Club vice-president is a level three coach who specialises in steeplechases, hurdles and middle distance running.

While he doesn’t have access to a steeplechase course at Bill Paterson Oval, he uses the long jump pit to simulate the water jump.

Robinson, 53 next month, has also fabricated a steeple to train with.

“We do a lot of hill work around here, even at night,” he said of his training approach.  “Limestone Park itself is a great venue.”

Among his athletes are Connor McNamara and his younger sister Kelly, Emily Beston and Erika Berlin.

Connor is a steeplechaser working towards club, state and national championships after Christmas, having completed his school commitments.

Kelly, also a talented hockey player, is preparing for state school 3000m events later this month.  She has also impressed in cross-country.

Beston is a 2000m steeplechaser, who finished fourth at last season’s nationals in Perth.

Berlin is focusing on the 400m hurdles, after making the final at the same championships earlier this year.

After starting with Little Athletics in 1989, Springfield-based Robinson found his way into the hurdling-type disciplines.

“It’s like the pole vault and hammer,” he said of his specialty events.

“When I first started with this club, my eldest boy had a go at it and I liked (steeplechase) because I coach hurdles too.”

Robinson said his work with middle distance runners tied in well with steeplechase and hurdles.

The Ipswich club life member said the water jumps provided added excitement for athletes who were “a little bit crazy” and brave enough to accept the challenge.

“I like to coach them to be independent,” he said.

Robinson, who also dabbles a bit in art as a hobby, works as a diesel fitter at Sumner Park.

But it’s in athletics where he still enjoys helping young people improve.

“I love it,” the former masters competitor said.  “I just think you’ve got to make it enjoyable.  If you lose your sense of humour, you may as well give it away.”


Coach in focus

Brad Robinson’s key role:  Level 3 coach in steeplechase, hurdles and middle distance running.  Coaching since 1989, at Goodna and Ipswich Little Athletics, before joining the senior Ipswich club in 1996.

Most satisfying part of coaching:  “Seeing them achieve their goals and I’ve just been that little bit of a help along the way.”

Toughest part of coaching:  “When they are disappointed after they have competed and how do you pick the pieces up and try and help them, to get them back on track?”

Qualities of a good athletics coach:  “Always try and look out of the square to find something that you might be able to use, instead of just going along the norm;  try and be individual but at the same time, you share your knowledge with other people . . . for the common good of the sport.”