“She's the most confident person I've ever met.”
Those are the words of runner Lindsey Butterworth, as she describes her coach, Brit Townsend.
“Her being so confident in everything that she does makes you confident in her,” says Butterworth.
That’s a lot of ‘confidence’ in one sentence. But Townsend backs it up.
Butterworth had a PB of 2:16 in the 800-metres when she arrived at Simon Fraser University out of high school. Now her best time is 2:00, and she gives the credit for that drop to her coach.
Townsend has taken her personal confidence, and bounced it back on Butterworth.
“She really promotes self-belief and instilling that confidence in all her athletes so that we truly believe in ourselves that we can be the best that we can be,” says Butterworth.
Townsend has every reason to believe in her coaching. She successfully transformed from an Olympic runner to a seasoned coach, managing the next generation of national team members.
“I am confident, that confidence is something that's also grown over the years, it comes from success, it comes from experience, it comes from working with lots of different athletes at different levels and identifying people at a young age,” says Townsend.
And Butterworth’s belief in her coach has created a great deal of trust over their nine years of collegiate and national titles.
“I just trust her, and that's the most important thing between any athlete and coach,” says Butterworth.
It’s not necessarily common for a runner to stay with their collegiate coach, long after their time in school has elapsed. Townsend, however, has made this a repeat occurrence.
Jessica Smith, who graduated from SFU in 2011, then competed at the 2012 London Olympic Games, continues to train with Townsend, while serving as an assistant coach for the SFU track and field program.
Butterworth looks up to Smith, who is a few years older.
“They're just so passionate, and loyal, and trusting and I think those things make for a great relationship between a coach and an athlete,” says Townsend.
And their connection has paid off in big moments. At last summer’s national championships, Butterworth had a shot at the title. But the track meet was behind schedule, and the 800-metre runners were kept out in the sun during the delay.
Butterworth was unfazed.
So was her coach.
They checked in with each other a few times during the wait, “I always show that I believe in them, I never have any hint that they could fail at what we're trying to accomplish,” says Townsend.
Butterworth won that race.
“She took off with about 300-metres to go, you put yourself in a very vulnerable position when you're in the lead and she just continued on with this authority,” says Townsend.
The coach shouldn’t be the least bit surprised, after all, it’s what she would have done.
“She's really been one of the most influential people for me in this sport,” says Butterworth.
“I've really developed into the athlete I am today because of her.”
Credit to CBC Sports