Gillick is off to sunnier climes
Top Irish athlete David Gillick is to quit his training base in England and join up with leading sprint coach Lance Brauman in Florida in two weeks' time.
Brauman, who is Tyson Gay's coach, has a great reputation in his field but he also has a colourful past. In 2007, he was sentenced to a year and a day in prison after being found guilty of five counts related to paying athletes for work not performed when he was the track coach at Barton County Community College.
In deciding to leave his Loughborough base, however, Gillick insists that his new coach's past is not a cause for concern. "Athletics is a small circle so I knew the story when I was making my decision and it didn't affect my thinking whatsoever," he told the Sunday Independent.
"All his athletes stood by him while he was in prison and worked on the training programmes that he gave them. He has a proven track record and that was one of the things I was aiming for when I was looking for coaches. I had a checklist and Lance ticks pretty much all the boxes.
"I wanted to get into a group where they are full-time athletes, where running is their bread and butter. You got Olympic and World medallists in the group, it's a full-on sprinter group with athletes who run 100m, 200m and 400m so I felt I'd fit in well."
Gillick moved to Loughborough in 2006 to become a full-time athlete. In the last five years he has won two European indoor gold medals and has broken the 45-second barrier on six occasions. However, he has suffered a series of disappointments at major championships this year and with London 2012 around the corner he felt that now was the time to freshen things up.
"I was a little bit in the comfort zone and I knew I had fallen into that trap so I just wanted to get away and knuckle down for the next two years. There are various aspects of myself as an athlete that I want to improve and I felt now was the time for change. Nick [Dakin] is a great coach, I have huge respect for him; if he was anywhere else in the world he would still be my coach but I just needed a change from England."
It wasn't an easy decision for the 400m runner to make, but after receiving support from Dakin, Athletics Ireland and the Irish Sports Council, he decided to commit to the move.
Gillick won't be the only Irish athlete based in Florida as sprinter Jason Smyth also trains there. "It will be great to have a few familiar faces over there. I'm looking forward to the challenge, to the winter training and working hard for the next two years," said Gillick.