Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
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NINA ANDERSON (September 2012)

Nina Anderson (Born in Newcastle on Tyne - and a 'Northerner through and through' 26th of January 1972) has already accomplished a lot at veteran level. Double World Masters W35 Champion outdoors over 400/800 in 2007; European Champion in 2008 and 2009 as well as achieving a W40 double in the European of 2012 at Zittau, Germany.
   Her start in athletics is interesting to say the least
      " I started jogging when I was 25 and I had not done anything before that.I trained as a ballet dancer then when I was 18 I was diagnosed as having osteo arthritis in my feet so gave up ballet. I had  been doing it for very many years. When I was 25 I just wanted to be a bit fitter and lose some weight because I had been used to a lot of dancing, eight hours a day so, I started jogging and I did not really know what I was doing.I joined a local gym and found a couple of ladies to run with. I went fairly early on into marathons but I was really slow. In my first marathon a rhino went passed me, that was how slow I was.I trained and got a little more clued up and my PB marathon was in Abingdon when I ran 3:28 off negative splits at 8 minute mileing.
   Somebody said ' Would you have a go at track?.' I had literally never stepped on to a track in my life until I was 29.
Somebody said ' Would you have a go at 400' so I did and It went fairly OK. That was when I had a little attempt  at track.
 ' I met Greg in 2002 and, at the time, had been training in a circus doing an Arial skill, which is up in the air on a rope.I thought that was quite similar to pole vaulting because it was a lot of upper body strength. It wasn't at all but that was my reason to say to Greg.
  ' I heard you coach the pole vault. I would like to have a go at the pole vault' so in 2002 I started working with Greg at Crystal Palace doing vaulting and very soon after that I asked him to look after my running."
At this stage of the article I would like to mention that Greg Richards and Nina Anderson got married in March this year and they live in North London. A strong point is that Greg Richards made the UK Olympic Decathlon team in 1988 and in 1985/86 he was AAA's Champion. He is currently a very successful coach and, has already coached 7 Olympians at 5 Olympics including one gold medallist (Erki Nool of Estonia in 2000); 4 athletes at 4 World Championships including one silver and one bronze medallist; and 5 Commonwealth Games including one Gold medallist).
   Nina continues " I did vaulting for a year and after that we just concentrated on running. As an 800m runner, we did not really feel the two mixed. That was how it started.. From the very, start it was about learning technical skills.
Learning technical skills was very important and Greg would not let me do any of the early drills on my own because practice makes 'Permanent' not 'Perfect'  If you practice the wrong drills you will do wrong and, it is then very hard to undo.I spent a very long time learning how to execute technical drills very well and I think that has a massive play into how I run today. I place a lot of importance as, a running coach. I coach a lot of athletes particularly Master athletes. I would say if they have the time it will make a significant difference .So many different aspects of their running, from injury prevention to just  improving, bio-mechanics and running economy it is that basic really.'
   Her fastest she ran the 400m was at 36 in 56.02 in 2008 in the European Masters, which she felt was quite unusual at an older age but then she added:-
   " I work very hard, I am very disciplined. I have a programme and I  have a clear understanding of the objectives. Greg and I have worked together a long time and, I coach.  At the end of every season we look at what went well and what  we might want to do differently and how the training has progressed.".
   Nina has got that desire to compete still, having been a European 'Over 40' Champion
 " I have the desire not to get beaten .I think there are two things. The first thing is I still think I can get quicker.
   I am not doing it just to go to a Championship. I am going there to try and cross the line first when it comes to that  Championship performance. I am the person, I like to think they have to beat. That is how I approach it. There has only been one year where I had a real problem being out for so long with injury, because no one diagnosed what the problem was. I take my training very seriously and I am very disciplined. Firstly it is because I want to race at the championships and try and be in contention for medals. The second thing is I still feel I am capable of going quicker."
 Track is her love but she added that she did not do road or cross-country racing at all.
" I don't do any of that as it does not suit me. I do an awful lot of strength conditioning. I do a lot of weight lifting.  Strength conditioning is fundamental in my training. I really enjoy it as well. I am 'PB'ing on some of my lifts like this year at the age of 40 doing a decent PB in the power clean of 67½".
  She was with Shaftesbury Barnet and now with Highgate Harriers. She won three events at the final Southern 2 Central League of the season on September the 2nd.
" I like to feel  valued as a club member. I really wanted to have a nice meeting actually and enjoy it. I have not particularly enjoyed any of my races which I normally do. I was quite anxious in my races at the Championship  so, that meeting at Highgate was fun. Having a nice day and enjoying my racing. It was lovely.. I am going to try and join as a Higher Comp athlete and look for a club, if anybody would be interested but having Highgate Harriers as my first claim would be nice."
 Memories of the European Masters victories this year?
   " It was job done really. All my Winter's training, when I start in October, was about those two races. That was all it was about so Greg said what did I feel about them afterwards. Relief that I actually had done it and won. I would not have been disappointed not to get gold if I had run a PB for example.In the 400, because you can't ask more for yourself than that but otherwise I would have  been disappointed not to win.So,I was really delighted and very relieved. All through the Winter my main focus is the Championships. If I get a time on the way that it is fantastic."
 Was her wins in the World Championships in Riccione in 2007 a memory for her then
" It was really good.It was  Greg and my first trip away really. We did not really know what to expect. Actually the 400m was very exciting. An American girl there who Greg had seen in the heat--.It is different for me when you are in  a  heat and I execute my race plan but Greg was obviously there as my coach.He was watching the competition. He told me there was the American girl  who looked as though she was going to run quick as, she was cruising round in the heat.. I beat her by a couple for 10ths. It was an exciting time and we both enjoyed it a lot. (Nina ran the Finals in 56.59/2:13.60.--She ran her fastest 800m in 2008 of  2:8.39)
Greg Richards told me about Nina Anderson's qualities as a runner
   "  She is very thorough. Straight down the barrel of the gun. Gets on with it."  

Alastair Aitken

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