EiEilidh Doye, Brian Doyle, Campbell Conor Doyle, photo by Eilidh Doyle
Brian Doyle and Eilidh Doyle, photo by Eilidh Doyle
This is story 3 on Eilidh Doyle and her career, written by Stuart Weir. It is a fascinating piece on the husband / coach relationship.
Eilidh Doyle on the husband/coach relationship
In 2010 Eilidh Child as she was then moved from Scotland to Bath to be coached by Malcolm Arnold whose athletes (including Colin Jackson) have won over 40 championship medals. Her husband, Brian Doyle, began to have a role in her coaching set-up becoming her main coach in 2017. In this piece she reflects on the dynamics of being coached by her husband.
It was interesting at first. I think Brian and I went into it a bit naively. We just thought it would be normal as were both quite chilled out people. We don’t really argue. When Malcolm decided he was going to retire, he mentioned Brian as a successor. Brian had done all his coaching qualifications and had worked alongside Malcolm for a time with both of them at my training sessions and Malcolm talking to Brian about what he was doing. So he trained Brian up. And Brian was always there with Malcolm. So when Malcolm retired I thought it would be an easy transition because Brian was already there at all my training sessions. But it was different when he became my coach.
Malcom Arnold and his wife, Madelyn Arnold, photo by Malcom Arnold
I think at first there was almost a lack of respect. When Malcolm would tell me to do things, I would do exactly what Malcolm said. Like when it was a horrible session, I would just get on with it but when I was doing the same session for Brian and he would say “10 seconds”, I would ask for a longer break. I would try to get away with more with Brian. And Brian was also probably more lenient with me because I was his wife. So we had to adapt so that I would show him the same respect I would show to Malcolm. And Brian also had to be a bit tougher with me.
We also made a rule that when we came home we wouldn’t talk about athletics because that was my time to switch off. When we did come home and discuss the training sessions, I found it a bit draining. I needed to be relaxing and not thinking about the next day’s session. In a way it was inevitable that we spoke about it because it was such a huge part of our lives. But that was something where we needed to make an adjustment. But after a few teething issues we got into the swing of things and there were times when I don’t know what I did done if I hadn’t had Brian with me.
I remember London 2017 when I came off the track I was quite disappointed and I didn’t need Brian my coach, I needed Brian my husband to give me a hug. And when I went to Australia for the Commonwealth Games in 2018 I was away for six weeks and it was just nice having Brian there, not just at the track but all that time away from the track. I wouldn’t call it home sick but I am home drawn and being away from family is hard so having him there made that long trip a lot more enjoyable and easier. And ultimately perhaps that was why I performed so well out there.
When I first joined Malcolm I remember that I would do exactly everything he said and there was no discussion, to gradually Malcolm wanting more discussion with me. He said I don’t just want to tell you what to do; I want to know what sessions benefit you. Towards the end of my time with Malcolm it did become more of a conversation between us. And that enabled Brian and me to do the same. While Brian was the one writing the program there was a discussion. Brian would ask me if I was happy to do something and I might ask him why we were doing something. So we were working really more as a team.
Leave a Reply