Rose pays tribute to special coach Jennings on his 80th birthday

A LOT has been made of today’s date – 22022022 – being a special occasion but how many of you reading this blog will be aware that it also marks a very special birthday for one of the top coaches in the history of Bristol athletics?

It will probably only be the older readers who will recall the name of Dave Jennings, who today celebrates his 80th birthday, but his role in developing some of the best distance running talent to emerge through the 1970s is written in folklore.

Perfect partnership: Coach Dave Jennings leads a young Nick Rose racing at the old Fry’s Ground, Keynsham

And one name, in particular, will always be associated with Jennings and that is Bristol & West AC two-times Olympian, World Cross Country Championships silver medallist, ex-World half marathon record holder and international runner Nick Rose.

Rose is arguably the greatest male runner to have come out of the South West and he has never forgotten the key role that Jennings played in helping him on his way to a great career.

“I would not have achieved what I had without Dave,” Rose told me.

“It helped that he lived a mile away (in Whitchurch). In the early days he would run over and literally drag me out for a run. One vivid memory was that it was a horrible evening and thinking Dave would not go out “in this” ate my tea.

“Just as I finished the doorbell rang and there was Dave!! I never did that again.

“His coaching had an immediate effect on my performances and I never looked back. I had total trust in his workouts and without his guidance I would not have received a scholarship to the States.

“He would send workouts to the States and the rest is history. A very knowledgeable man who gave so much to the sport.

“The list of athletes that he helped guide, from Olympians to club runners is very long indeed. Lovely man and lovely memories.”

Happy birthday Dave.