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PROTRACK » GENERAL » WA head track coach Lyn Foreman redundant in WAIS revamp

WA head track coach Lyn Foreman redundant in WAIS revamp

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Foreman's new job "a hiding to nothing"

By Bevan Eakins,
The West Australian
October 27, 2012

Lyn Foreman never considered herself much of an athlete.

Sure, she was a triple national champion in the 400m hurdles and represented Australia at Commonwealth Games and world titles.

But she got there only through "persistence and patience".

"It took me 10 years to make my first Australian team," Foreman said this week as she prepared to finish up as head track coach at the WA Institute of Sport.

It is, perhaps, that role where she will be best remembered … as the "most successful athletics coach in WA in the last 20 years", according to WAIS director Steve Lawrence.

In 1987, Foreman, then 30, ruptured an Achilles - which would end her running career - and slipped into coaching.

"I didn't want to do it but Wally said I could. He believed in me," Foreman said.

"One week I was competing, next week I was coaching."

Wally, of course, is late husband Wally Foreman. The driving force behind WAIS, its first director in 1984 and an ABC commentator died in 2006.

For 20 years, Lyn Foreman has been a full-time coach at WAIS, but a national change of direction has made her role redundant.

She won't be lost to athletics.

At 55, she's signed a two-year contract to head Athletic WA's targeted talent program as part of a new national pathway to international success.

Breaking the bond with WAIS has not been easy.

Over a coffee in North Beach, our conversation is peppered with "Wally" references and she would much rather do the new job under the institute's umbrella.

But the move was made inevitable with WAIS and Athletics Australia agreeing that the institute's athletics program would concentrate on the technical disciplines of pole vault and the three throws - javelin, shot put and discus.

She steps into one of the most difficult roles in athletics: talent identification and retention.

"Talent is easy to find but hard to retain," she said.

"It's a hard gig and … I'm on a bit of a hiding to nothing."

Foreman points to a 1979 UK study of a junior championship where 43 titles were up for grabs and 129 medals on offer. Ten years later, only one of the athletes at that carnival was still competing at a comparable level.

Nothing much has changed, she believes.

A crucial part of her job is to change the "culture" of the sport, opening up a pathway for talent to progress from Little Athletics to the elite level.

And that includes working with coaches at all levels, even encouraging those in Little Aths to move through the system if they so desire.

"My contract is for two years and it's very hard to change a culture in two years. It takes six to 10 years to be an overnight success," she said, pointing to her own experience at national level.

The basics have to start in the schools and she has already been working on that with the introduction of her "run, jump, throw" program which she believes should be compulsory.

"Kids don't know how to endure and that's not their fault," Foreman said, pointing a finger squarely at modern culture.

"They don't walk, they don't climb and they don't know how to run, jump and throw. Some kids don't even have a ball at home."

Foreman looks around the cafe, points to one young couple and says they are the only ones of about 20 customers who are not fat.

The world has passed by those customers and the rest of Australia. She cites New York as an example of a fitter population where, because of congestion and economic factors, people walk everywhere. Eventually that makes them fitter, stronger and more able to "endure", a key word in her philosophy.

Today's Australian kids don't know how to set and attain goals, are not strong enough and, again, do not endure.

Foreman smiles at her next theoretical proposal - a boot camp on Rottnest Island for talented kids.

"You don't tell them how long it is going to last for and the ones that fail, you airlift off the island," she said.

"If you started with 20 kids you would have one left at the end."

Foreman has seen only two Australian athletes who fit her criteria of strength and endurance, and both have succeeded at the elite level - Olympic gold medallists Cathy Freeman and Sally Pearson.

"The difference between them and all other athletes is that the 'what-ifs' are not there. They get up when they are knocked down, they don't give up," she said.

However, the athletics scene is not all doom and gloom.

Foreman is a national youth event coach for under-19s and 17s, in charge of the hurdles.

"It's the best program I have seen in my lifetime and I've been involved since I was 12," she said.

"It holds the key to changing the sport. This year we had our most successful world junior team (in July) since Sydney in 1996."

It's a pathway to success for an athlete and gold medals.

It's also Foreman's new pathway.

"I still have a passion for the sport and I still have something to offer," she said.

"I don't know if I can do this in two years but at least I hope to have something in place we can continue to grow with."
"They don't walk, they don't climb and they don't know how to run, jump and throw." " Outgoing WAIS coach *Lyn Foreman *

2WA head track coach Lyn Foreman redundant in WAIS revamp Empty Lyn Foreman on Thu Nov 01, 2012 12:43 pm


ProTrack A Grader
ProTrack A Grader
We would have to strongly disagree since 1992 that Lyn was the "most successful athletics coach in WA in the last 20 years"? according to WAIS director Steve Lawrence.
Very nice lady, but in 20yrs she has had barely any athlete's enter or win any major Pro race.
Part of being a good coach should be making sure your athlete's are regularly winning money (or participating) in the Pro's (easier said than done!).
This will keep them in the sport longer.

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ProTrack A Grader
ProTrack A Grader
LOL, JB you are a joke!

1. Pro running in WA has been around since 1987. You are showing your lack of intelligence, athletics history & age! I never said Lyn wasn't a successful coach... just not the most successful
2. Pro running does keep people in the sport. Some athletes prefer to race for money, rather than medals or nothing at all. (You should keep doing the pro's JB, as we can't see you winning anything else!)
3. You should go back to wherever you came from and show some respect for WA Athletics. We don't see you promoting the sport in any way?
4. I think you will find Matt Barber has coached 17 or so international athletes in the past 20 or so years... But you would have been in nappies when most of them were competing.

We admire the way you are sticking up for your coach JB. We are intitled to our opinion too... The WCAL does not need people like you involved.

You talk very tough for a small fellow!

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On any level Matt Barber's record in the first decade of the 'last 20 years' was phenomenal (say 1992 to 2002). Far and away he put WA pro-running on the map with regular finalists in all the major gifts winning eight majors (1 Stawell, 3 Bay Sheffields & 4 Burnie Gifts). Without knowing for sure I think he holds the record for the most major Gift winners (of the three Grand Slams) in Australian pro-running history.

His amateur athletes were dominant across the sprints and hurdles throughout the 90's, albeit a few of them were imports like Andrew McManus, Paul Green and Paul Henderson.

I'ts a fine line to say who has the better record as Matt hasn't been anywhere near as prominent in the last decade as he was in the 90's.

Lyn Foreman has made a significant contribution to the sport in WA, more so over the last decade than say in the 90's.

It's a moot point and probably requires a greater level of investigation as to whether Matt or Lyn has been the more successful.

I will differ greatly with JB on one point - pro running has kept a lot of athletes in the sport and many elite athletes have kept with the pro's rather than give the sport away altogether. I could name a number of pro/am athletes who in their twilight years have fallen back on the pro's to keep them motivated in the sport.

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Pro racing? Are you kidding me? Why would Lyn encourage that?
Anybody who places pro racing above Nationals/Worlds/Olympics is out of their mind.
To be honest, I can't remember the name of ONE person who has won Stawell Gift/any major pro race. Who did we all notice/watch? Johnny Steff. Funny that. Running in pro races with handicaps in my opinion, is barely 'racing' at all.

I thought we did Athletics for the pride, joy & pure love of it.. demonstrated by Lyn herself.
Participating in Athletics for the money to me, is just sick. Get a real job if that's how you feel.

If anybody is doing anything for the love of Athletics, it's Lyn. She fought for the right to maintain all of her training group at this new job she has taken. Lyn doesn't care about fees, in fact on a regular basis she refuses to accept any money at all - regardless of the fact she is the best coach in WA, along with giving younger athletes the opportunity to train with some of the best in Australia.

Your comments make me sick and it clearly shows how little you really know about Lyn Foreman.
Therefore, shut your mouth, stop insulting her athletes and maybe have a chat with her about your opinions.

I'm sure we will.


Appreciate you posting em2012 but given this is primarily a pro-running forum, you will find your extremely narrow-minded views in the minority.

It's extraordinarily ignorant and elitist to suggest that athletes who choose to run with the athletic leagues are running 'just' for the money. Apart from the major gift winners, 99% of athletes in pro running are participating for the enjoyment, camaraderie and the chance to be rewarded for their efforts, whether that be a trophy, sash or prizemoney.

The SA Athletic League has 396 entries at Henley this week - a meet that has about 3 grand in total prizemoney. The vast majority are going there knowing full well they won't win anything but are looking forward to the experience.

There are hundreds of people throughout Australia who are very passionate about the sport of pro-running and it continues to thrive regardless of the pockets of resistance from narrow minded individuals who bag it for no logical reason.

And just for the record I know of many people who could tell you the names of dozens of Stawell Gift winners. Give them a year and they will name you the winner.

I'm tipping you probably couldn't name the winner of many Australian sporting iconic events such as the Melbourne Cup, Brownlow Medal or the Australian cricketer of the year - doesn't diminish the achievement just because you can't remember who won it.

By the way you are straight out of the 1950's if you think professional athletes (Bolt, Rudisha, Pearson etc) should only compete for the love & enjoyment. Full time athletes need to make a living from their profession and there's certainly nothing 'sick' about earning a living from athletics, even when some of those funds are drawn from pro-running - as John Steffensen, Kim Collins & Michael Frater did at Stawell this year.


Your so incorrect JB. Only having gone to one WA pro race as you mentioned how would you know how many athletes "elite or not" that it keeps in the sport, or the culture that it breeds. Speaking of "the culture", tell me, how do you get 50 athletes to drive 6.5hours north (Mullewa) to compete for minimal prize money in less than acomodating conditions, and say that it is for anything less than the love of the sport. Sorry mate, you have your wires crossed.

Yes WCAL doesn't hold races every week, however the regular competitors train hard to win the few events they do hold and their value comes with the sash you hang on your door or trophie you put in your cabinet. Sorry if you think what myself and my peers train so hard for is a joke, but it gives us purpose, and its better then all of us sitting down at a pub feeling sorry for ourselves that we aren't running sub 11 seconds.

In conclusion, you were annoyed that someone said your coach is not the best in WA. The fact is arguable. however, taking it out on the WCAL and indirectly everyone that competes is not the way to go mate. I really hope that your comments today take any credibillity away from any future comments you make on this forum in regards to the WCAL or pro running.


Errr ^.

JB mentioned 6 gifts he has run in. Read the comments. Who cares if it's WA or not. A gift is a gift.

Take away all prize money from gifts and come back to tell us how many people competed.


I'm sorry to say but when I didn't have a squad to train with Lyn took me on and was the reason I stayed in the sport. Definitely was not pro running.

I completely agree that pro running in WA is an absolute joke. I was more than happy to get involved but got the most rediculous handicap it wasnt worth my time.

It also me laugh that these comments can be made yet WCAL are more then happy to use Lyn's Olympic and World champs representatives to promote their events.

Lyn is an amazing coach and person. I think other coaches in WA not just on this forum need to keep their mouths shut and opinions to themselves, and spend the time they do talking concentrating on their own athletes.

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JH, the fact you do not live in WA, do not know Lyn Foreman, how WAIS is/was run, what her job entails and how she coaches along with how WA Athletics is run I personally don't think your comment can be regarded as valid.

The original point to this was 'We would have to strongly disagree since 1992 that Lyn was the "most successful athletics coach in WA in the last 20 years"? according to WAIS director Steve Lawrence.
Very nice lady, but in 20yrs she has had barely any athlete's enter or win any major Pro race.'

In other words, the WAIS director is wrong in claiming Lyn was the most successful athletics coach in WA in the last 20 years BECAUSE she has barely any athletes enter or win any major pro race.

Righto, so regardless of the fact she was Head of Track Athletics at WAIS for numerous years and sent a number of her own athletes to the Comm Games, World Champs & Olympics.. the coach with the most athletes competing in pro races gains the title of top coach in WA? Wow. Get a grip.


JH sorry to say but if you actually understood how poor the culture is within athletics in WA then you would understand the reasoning behind us standing up for our coach.

Too many of these tough coaches come out with these opinions usually aimed at our group or coach because she is successful. But the truth behind it is she is one of only a very few coaches that does it for the athletes, she gets satisfaction out of seeing her athletes perform, not winning money for her.

At the end of the day Lyn works very hard to keep athletes in the sport, and to have her hard work undermined by a comment saying pro racing does is the reason we get annoyed.

We have just had enough of the comments people come out with, yes they are entitled to their opinion but sometimes they should be kept to themselves. Maybe if this happened then the culture within WA might improve.

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From Bm: "But the truth behind it is she is one of only a very few coaches that does it for the athletes, she gets satisfaction out of seeing her athletes perform, not winning money for her."

If you think coaches in pro-running are doing it just for the money, you are sadly mistaken. A percentage of the prizemoney might offset some of our expenses but in the long term it wouldn't come close to covering the costs and sacrifices we make.

I'm a big admirer of Lyn Foreman and the outstanding contribution she has made......but let's not forget that Lyn was an employee of WAIS for 20 years - she was effectively paid to coach. I know it wasn't the motivating factor as to why she coached, but it certainly helps when you have a steady income from coaching.

It probably goes to the heart of the criticism - others are jealous that Lyn was a very successful full time head coach at the WAIS. It's what a lot of other coaches would love to do but never will get the chance - to be a full time coach.

Lyn's record clearly shows she is an excellent, proven coach, especially of 400's & 800's - it's why I was delighted to see James Boden join her squad when he moved to WA. I know he's in very good hands. Good luck to her in the next phase of her career.


ProTrack A Grader
ProTrack A Grader
Fact is... the pro's are being well supported in WA. Including great support from Athletics WA.

69 WCAL memberships so far in 2012/13 season would support this.
Most people in WA are not only happy but excited to see the pro's up and running again and will continue to support it. With this support you can be sure it will grow bigger and better!
Unfortunately, we have a small minority in WA who wish to see it fail... Mainly from JB's training group. As we get alot of other UWA entries who are very happy with it, and the way it is running atm.

Dont' cut your nose to spite your face!

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ProTrack Star
ProTrack Star
Can remember JB having the same attitude towards Pro running in SA until one day the penny dropped and he hopped the fence .

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Wow - probably wasn't the best choice of articles to start a debate on WA pro running, but at least it has generated some discussion. Having done both pro's and ammo's in WA for over 20 years and serving on both pro and ammo boards I would like to make a few points.

Foreman coaching record - It seems that we have moved passed this issue but the only thing I would say is presumably WAIS's KPI's for Lyn were performance related and she must have met them year after year. Very surprised that they have chosen not to keep a track coach. Being the only WAIS track coach would have given her an advantage in recruiting track athletes so you would hope she has produced some winners. At the end of the day every coach no matter what the sport will have supporters or detractors. As long as the athlete is happy with their coach it really doesn't matter what others think.

WA Pro's history lesson- Like the other states WA had pro's in the 1800's and early 1900's and i remember seeing an article and photo from 1930's quoting Mullewa as the Stawell of the West. It looks like from WWII to 1987 pro's pretty much died out. When it was reborn in 1987 until the mid 1990's it seems that it was very successful in terms of competitor numbers and prizemoney. I believe Austin Robertson (involved in World Series Cricket) was involved in some capacity. I didn't start pro's until 1999 and it was on a downhill slide with only 2-4 meets most seasons. In my 11 years in a row at Mullewa there would have been no more than 35 competitors in any one year and it probably averaged mid 20's.

WA Athletics Culture - The one word that springs to mind is elitist- and this is both for athletes and coaches. I almost dropped out of the sport because I couldn't find a coach who wanted to coach a 23 year old 52 second 400m runner. Fortunately I found a coach and the pro's and have stayed in the sport. Elite WA runners just don't understand the pro's and I also found at ammo meets that the elite athletes didn't have the time of day for young athletes. Our squad was as guilty of this as any,but we did try to encourage new athletes to hang in there and try some pro running when people turned up to try at our club.

Development Pathway- the one thing that baffles me is that WA coaches do not see the handful of pro races as a genuine development pathway. With few elites in WA there are very few opportunities to perform at interclub under pressure if you have for example the 100m wrapped up 30m into the race.Yes unfortunately due to the mixed races (due to poor numbers) the 120m limit was 30m and the 550m limit 130m on every occassion I ran in WA. However if the handicapper is doing their job why worry about it? Chasing athletes off those big marks gave me a lot of confidence when heading east. There were numerous WA athletes who have been world beaters at interclub, but haven't performed at nationals - maybe if they had to catch someone starting 25m in front over 120m in the last stride would help them run out a race without tightening up.

Running dead - The CEO of Little Aths Vic told me the other day that because of the Little A's races at Stawell, Little A's kids are now running dead - are you kidding me!! The flipside of exposing them to the pro's is that they will hopefully stay in the sport if they don't become elite, and also continue doing it if they are elite.

Prizemoney - It does seem as though some of the WCAL promotion is a little too money focused,but it does seem to be working in attracting numbers. Given it is being run by a committee of one, I am sure Edmo won't knockback any smart marketing student athletes or otherwise out there who would like to assist. I am sure parents of athletes would be stoked if their kids could win some money to pay for their spikes, coaching and a trip to nationals.

WCAL in last 10 years and now- everyone on the WCAL committee was extremely time poor, so the decision was made to hand the management over to Athletics WA in 2010. In my last 5 years on the committee no one put their hand up to assist in any capacity and at my last Mullewa I was collecting entry money on the day, filming, drawing heats, and trying to compete. If I had stayed in WA I probably would have been doing all of the above and firing the start gun!! Unfortunately I don't think Aths WA totally understood the pro's so it continued to stagnate. The rebirth of WCAL under Edmo is the best thing that has happened for pro's in WA for 10 years - again he is a volunteer, but has the time and passion to put back into it...unfortunately JB he has put you offside today with his stupid remarks about Lyn and it also seems there may be some prior history between the two of you? Hopefully you can get passed that.

Stable influence - JB i think you will find that every single person on the VAL and SAAL boards have a link to a stable whether it is as an athlete, coach or some other involvement. The reality is that these committees also struggle to find volunteers. I think you will find that the handicapper for WCAL to the best of my knowledge never ran a pro race, and is not closely linked to any stable (I could be wrong), so Edmo is well qualified to do the planning as long as he leaves the handicapper alone.

Moving forwardJB I would be shattered if you were not interested in running pro's in WA. I believe you could make a significant contribution both on and off the track.Could I suggest that yourself and Edmo both take a deep breath and focus on what is best for the sport and have a chat. You are both passionate and both probably frustrated about how crappy pro's in WA have been, but Edmo is making steps in the right direction.

I would suggest that any WA athlete who can't afford to compete on the national circuit should be taking the opportunity to run some WA pro's so that they can compete under pressure and with an added bonus of maybe picking up a pay day to maybe fund a trip to nationals.

Good luck and I would be more than happy to talk to you about WA pro's, WCAL, edmo and anything else to do with running in WA.


Starting pro,s in S.A. 1968 we had about 20 runners on books running for peanuts,The main Driver was a man who had a Vision for Pro- Athletics,this was Mr Mort Daley, who has now achieved that vision with the SAAL.All he wanted was for the youth in the country to compete with a healthy body and mind.In S.A. we can say thank you to this man who unfortunately has passed without seeing the fruits of his labour.His supporters are still putting in tireless hours as coaches or adminisrators in S.A. for little reward, as they truely believe in Pro-Running.


Great post by Cam Yorke. Sums it up. Hope everyone can start pulling in the same direction.


You lot are actually pathetic.

The original statement was that Lyn isn't/hasn't been the most successful track coach in WA for the last 20 years.
A statement made by the director of WAIS (concerned with the best of the best athletes - those that are elite). If anybody has an accurate opinion on this, it would be someone involved with WAIS ie him.

You think one of your pro-running coaches could challenge Lyn for the title?
Have they been asked to coach elite teams? Or even elite athletes!?

Why wouldn't Rugby Australia for example take on a coach who is in charge of some lower level amateur team instead of one possessing a huge history of important leadership amongst elite teams?
Instead, Robbie Deans coached Canterbury for 4 years before becoming Assistant Coach at the All Blacks for 3 years on top of coaching the Crusaders and then finally went onto head coach at the Wallabies.

You can't even consider yourself the most successful coach when you haven't even coached the best of the best.
It's like me trying to argue my Yr 5 Netball coach is the most successful Netball coach in Australia.
Yeah.. nah.

I'm not even going to try to explain what is right as you lot will never see it due to your eyes being covered in jealousy.

The original statement made by the director of WAIS is 110% true and is practically common knowledge whether you like it or not.

Lyn Foreman has been the most successful track coach in WA for the last 20 years.


Is this em2012 serious? Has he read any post after the first one? Just when some intelligent debate enters the discussion, em2012 has to reduce it to another level of silliness.

Read Cam Yorke's post and you might improve your understanding of the issues. But then I guess you cant't educate statues.

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