Emma Collings-Barnes And Zoe Baker Selected To UK Sport Female Leadership Programme

Emma Collings-Barnes Mt Kelly
Emma Collings-Barnes: Photo Courtesy: Mount Kelly

Emma Collings-Barnes – who played an integral role in Federico Burdisso‘s journey to the Olympic podium – and former world record-holder Zoe Baker are among 24 female coaches selected to UK Sport’s leadership programme.

The programme forms part of a plan to more than double female representation in the Olympic and Paralympic high-performance community in the three years from Tokyo to Paris 2024.

Coming from 17 sports, the coaches will work with a group of five coach leaders including Jan Leeming from British Diving who graduated from the 2021 programme.

Monica Greenwood (British Cycling), Claire Morrison (Boccia UK) and Tracy Whittaker-Smith (Trampolining, British Gymnastics), who coached at their third and fifth Games respectively in Tokyo, will reprise their roles as coach leaders while former GB and England Hockey coach Karen Brown will once again act as a mentor to the 24 coaches.

Mel Marshall – coach to Adam Peaty and Luke Greenbank – is one of five coach leaders from the first programme who will act as inspirational figures.

She will be joined by Jane Figueiredo who guided Tom Daley to Olympic diving gold with Matty Lee as well as individual bronze at Tokyo 2021 as well as Paula Dunn (athletics), Kate Howey (judo) and Bex Milnes (triathlon).

The programme plays a critical role in demonstrating that coaching on the Olympic and Paralympic stage is a viable career for women. The new set of 24 coaches have been identified as having the potential to coach at the summer and winter Olympic and Paralympic Games from Paris 2024 and Milan-Cortina 2026 and beyond.

Each will be offered support and development opportunities, including observing their assigned coach leader in their environment, exploring three fundamental topics to career development – namely leadership, environment and transition – as well as continuously engaging in discussion and debate to consolidate their learning.

Sally Munday, CEO at UK Sport, said:

“After the success of our inaugural female coaches leadership programme in 2021, I am delighted to welcome another strong cohort of hugely promising and talented coaches as it returns for another year.

 “UK Sport is committed to powering a diverse and inclusive Olympic and Paralympic high-performance community. This programme forms an integral part of our ambition to grow our thriving sporting system and deliver against our ambition to see far more women coaching at the pinnacle of their sports.

“The fact that coaches from last year’s programme went on to coach at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, and that two of them are now leaders for the 2022 cohort, shows what a beneficial learning opportunity this is. The programme for this next cohort of 24 coaches is really exciting and I wish them all the very best.”

Rise And Rise Of Collings-Barnes And Baker

Jul 28, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Federico Burdisso (ITA) during the medals ceremony for the men's 200m butterfly during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Federico Burdisso before receiving his bronze medal in the men’s 200 fly; Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Collings-Barnes is director of swimming at Mount Kelly, a boarding and day school in Tavistock, Devon, in south-west England.

A former open water swimmer who represented Great Britain, she was named Talent Development Coach of the Year at the 2020 UK Coaching Awards.

She has guided athletes to national and international teams and was director of swimming at Millfield School when James Guy arrived in 2008, the then 12-year-old now having gone on to win Olympic and world titles.

Burdisso spent two years from 2017-19 at Mount Kelly during which he won bronze in the 200 butterfly at the 2018 European Championships in Glasgow and claimed three bronzes at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.

Now at Northwestern University in Illinois, USA, Burdisso claimed 200 fly bronze in Tokyo behind Kristof Milak and Tomoru Honda.

The Italian claimed a second medal of the same colour when he swam the fly leg in the men’s 4×100 medley relay that claimed third in a national record.

Baker has a glittering pedigree in the 50 breaststroke including the 2002 Commonwealth title, two world bronze medals and is a double European silver medallist.

She is also a four-time world record-holder.

Zoe Baker

Zoe Baker: Photo Courtesy: zoebaker.co.uk

She was the founder of the Bournemouth Collegiate School Swim Academy in 2011 and worked as the Head Performance Coach between 2011-2019.

Baker coached the University of Bath senior team in 2008-2009 leading the strength and conditioning programme and coaching the sprint programmes for a range of athletes from international and national level through to university and age group level.

She is now head performance coach at Winchester City Penguins, a club in south-west England, with Imogen Clark and Kayla van der Merwe among those benefiting from her breaststroke expertise.

Clark won 50br silver at the 2018 Europeans and holds the British record over long and short-course.

Van der Merwe won silver and bronze at the 2019 World Juniors as well as 100br gold and 200br at the European Junior Championships that same year.