Bobsleigh Champ Takes Run At ‘World’s First’ Cycle Coaching Course

Kedleston Road campus 504x257 Bobsleigh Champ Takes Run At ‘World’s First’ Cycle Coaching Course

Date posted: 12 December 2007

With world class sportsman, retired Army Major and businessman already on your CV, most men would be happy to rest on their laurels.

But when Jonnie Woodall - a former Winter Olympian and tobogganing world record holder - looked around for a fresh challenge he settled on a unique sports course offered at the University of Derby’s Devonshire Campus in Buxton.

Jonnie is one of half a dozen students on the University’s new Foundation Degree in Sports Coaching. The two-year course, thought to be a world’s first, aims to create the next generation of champion breeding cycling coaches.

Launched in September 2007, the course gets behind the psychology, exercise science and nutritional know-how of the sport of cycling. Parts of the course also deal specifically with mountain biking, the pressures of competitive cycling, and the practicalities of promoting it in the community and amongst the young.

The course’s students actually include a second Olympian, Adrian Timmis, who was part of the British cycling pursuit team at the 1984 Olympic Games, and a Tour de France finisher and stages winner in 1987.

Jonnie himself has an impressive amateur cycling background.After swapping from running to cycling about ten years ago to keep fit, he first completed a 50 mile charity bike ride.

A few years later Jonnie moved his cycling up several gears by taking part in the 2004 L’Etape du Tour, a gruelling annual event which allows amateur cyclists to complete one of the same mountain stages as that year’s Tour de France, and competed in the World Masters Track Championship, at the Manchester Velodrome, the National Cycling Centre.

Not content with that, in 2006 Jonnie took part in the Gran Fondo Campagnolo, an Italian version of the L'Etape du Tour through the mountainous Dolomite region of Italy. He then founded a home version called the Gran Fondo Cymru, now staged annually in Wales and billed as the UK’s toughest one day cyclosportive event.

The same year he also rode from his home in Shrewsbury to Marseille, France, in seven days.

Jonnie said: “Earlier this year I read about the University of Derby Buxton’s Foundation Degree in Sports Coaching course.  I thought I could formalise what I’ve learnt about cycling through it and pass that on to others.”

He travels from Shrewsbury to Buxton every week for course lectures.

“I absolutely love it, I’ve found it fascinating and very stimulating. I’ve an open mind on what I will do with my qualification. 

“I think it will definitely include further research and some coaching. I am already doing some of the latter as part of my coursework module.

“Working with schools appeals to me and trying to get more people cycling,” added Jonnie.

The University of Derby Buxton’s ‘cycling pathway’ Foundation Degree was developed by course leader Paul Jakubowski, with Brendan Meehan and 70-year-old Richard Clark, a veteran cyclist and coach who recently gained a 2:1 for his BSc in Sports Studies.

Students on the two year course can choose to go on to do a third year, as Jonnie is doing, and gain a BA (Hons) in Sport and Recreation Management; or Joint Honours pathways in Sport Psychology, Physical Activity and Health, or in Sports Coaching.


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Press release by Press and PR Officer Sean Kirby on 01332 593004 or email

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