Canoe Slalom Technical Coach Craig Morris has won a prestigious award at the UK Sport PLx Conference for his "Special Impact on High Performance in a Sport".
The award shines a light on those within the High Performance system who go above and beyond to make an exceptional impact beyond the norm. Craig, who coached Mallory Franklin, Adam Burgess and Kimberley Woods to Tokyo 2020 selection last year, was praised for his person-centred philosophy, and in particular, the focus he puts on welfare, health and well-being.
On winning the award, Craig said: “It’s very meaningful to receive the ‘special impact’ award from UK Sport.
Whilst my name is attached to it, I accept it only as an acknowledgement of the power of sport in building relationships, bringing communities together and exploring skills adaptable for life– Craig Morris, Canoe Slalom Technical Coach
“As a coach I get the majority of my learning from being around amazing people day in, day out, in the shape of athletes. Great people, great paddlers and alongside us at every step is a vast network of skilled, compassionate people committed to understanding the person and using that understanding to explore performance.”
Craig nurtures high performing people to facilitate high performing athletes, by always taking a person-centred approach, prioritising connections with self, belonging and psychological safety. He has a strong belief that we coach a person not a sport therefore helping and inspiring his athletes to achieve their goals both personally and in their paddling performances.
“In some respects this award acknowledges the coming together of people in a time of struggle around a particular individual. Whilst Kimberley has been brave and felt able to reach out with her story in the hope of supporting others, there will be many, many more amazing partnerships we don’t hear about,” he added.
“Amazing stories of ‘being there’ to help people navigate uncertain times and develop comfort in being openly vulnerable and of course there will be people who continue to feel unable to reach out".
As coaches and practitioners, I believe we are in a caring profession and therefore must exercise that responsibility with upmost importance– Craig Morris, Canoe Slalom Technical Coach
Kimberley Woods, who will represent Team GB in the K1 in Tokyo, said: “Craig has been a huge part of my journey to the Olympic Games. Through the whole selection period, he never let me lose faith in my ability and myself. He allowed me to see my strengths and allowed me to embrace them both inside and outside of paddling.
“Having three athletes in his group all going to the Games for the first time is incredible and he’s given us a great platform to embrace it all, day to day and to keep finding and making those extra gains where we can.
“We’re really all in this together.”
Paul Ratcliffe, Performance Director for British Canoeing, added: “Huge congratulations to Craig, he is very deserving of this award.
“Craig is very much a people person and focuses very much on the individual, putting them at the heart of everything he is doing.
“Kimberley has been a real inspiration in talking quite openly about her mental health and Craig has been with her every step of the way."