Former Olympian Andy Turner bringing world-class training to ISD academy
Former Olympic 110-meter hurdler Andy Turner is once again aiming for Olympic gold, this time with the children of ISD Athletics.
Based in the sports city of Dubai, the new academy is open to all ages and levels as the academy sets out to bring world-class training and coaching to the city.
The three-time Olympic medalist has been in Dubai for three months as the academy seeks to find the next star in athletics using Turner’s knowledge and experience to find and develop talent in the region.
“It’s a passion, not just a job,” he tells Sport360. “It’s important for athletes to give something back and not just to retire and take that knowledge with them. A mutual friend put us in touch and I was delighted to come to Dubai, it’s really nice to be involved again. I enjoyed my stay here, everyone was great with me and the way they set up ISD. “
With ISD Athletics, we are raising the bar for athletics in the UAE by providing a platform for girls and boys of all skill levels and abilities ages 5 and up to improve their skills and learn new ones. We also offer a path to professional careers and college scholarships.
We have all the major disciplines here: sprints, middle and long distance races, hurdles, shot put, discus, javelin, long jump, triple jump and high jump as well as strength and conditioning to ensure every athlete has a well balanced development.
But it’s not exclusive for those looking to reach the Olympics. The European and Commonwealth Gold Medalist is very keen for all children to get involved as an academy. “I try to make things as fun as possible for the kids, I’m a bit of a children’s animator. We need to make kids like it, it can’t be hard work all the time, we need to engage with them as well. Luckily we’ve already had some great results in our time trials which is great to be a part of.
Having been in Dubai for the past three months, Turner was able to take a look at the talent in the region and was encouraged, with what he has seen so far. “I was impressed with the talent; there is a real painting here. There are kids who really want to step up and become the next level, which is great because we can relate to those, having competed at the highest level. There are kids here who are doing it just for fun which is absolutely perfect and they are treated the same as those who might be considering a career in athletics. It’s good to have that mix of talent and one of the beauties of the sport is that you don’t know who is going to be an Olympian or not.
After pushing his body to extremes and training vigorously throughout his career, including a stint in bodybuilding and then boxing, the Briton is now in a place where he is happy to stay in shape without competing. “After athletics, I turned to fitness modeling, which is more about being shredded not so much. I needed a reason to train after I finished competing, which is why I took the plunge.
“My brother was already doing it so I decided to take an interest in it. I did it for two years, then I retired and started boxing. I had five fights, I fought Dwain Chambers in a charity match, and I won. He’s a friend, so it was weird punching him in the face and then relaxing with him afterwards.
The fitness modeling was brutal because your body is changing all the time and the diet was so hard, it was more strict than athletics and I just needed something to keep me going. Now I am focusing on capacity building for adults and children.
With COVID-19 restrictions halting nearly all outdoor activities last summer, the kids at ISD academy are enjoying being able to compete again as restrictions are relaxed. Keeping busy and having something to focus on is so important for kids and adults. Of course, we respect the current restrictions, but it’s so good to get the kids out and active after a tough year last year.
When things get back to normal, the former world record holder hopes to step up the competition at ISD Athletics, with the help of his friends. “The facilities are amazing, you have everything you need. What I’m looking to do is bring a world class facility to Dubai, I want all my athlete friends to come and compete here at the venue. I’m sure we can do it. We also have the spring camp for the kids, so we’re looking to inspire them.
Despite a successful career on the Turner Trail, it wasn’t until his early twenties that he realized he could reach the top. “I didn’t think I was going to compete in the Olympics, my very first championships were at 23, which was the Olympics. Before that, I just wasn’t good enough. These things take time and some people are born with talent and some take longer to develop it, so I did. And at 23, I was really starting and others had won loads of medals, so every trip is different. My advice to all children would be to never give up.
“When I was 16 I was good, I was the fastest schoolboy in the country, but every year the obstacles get higher and higher and I couldn’t make the higher ones, so people that I was beating were beating me now. Then I went to college and there were times when I just did it to do it rather than think something might come of it. And it took a race for it all to come together and for me to think it could be a career.
ISD Athletics Hosts First Spring Camp In Dubai Sports City From March 28e for boys and girls aged 5 to 18.
ISD Athletics also offers adult training camps every Saturday in Dubai Sports City.
For more information, please visit isddubai.com or call 058-285-8239.
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