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Kim hits the ground running in rowing ‘Coaching Futures’ role

Posted: September 14, 2021

Kim Murray joined the Scottish Rowing performance team earlier this summer, the third rowing coach since 2013 deployed in Scotland thanks to ‘Coaching Futures’ investment from sportscotland and the first employed directly by Scottish Rowing.

Coaching Futures aims to increase the pool of home-grown world class coaches by supporting sports to create opportunities for performance athletes to transition into coaching roles.

Brought up on the Isle of Wight, Murray excelled first in athletics where she was a talented long jumper before her focus switched to completing her studies with a BSc in Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Bath and an MSc in Exercise Physiology with first class honours from Loughborough University, to show for five years of academic study.

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Her career first brought her to Scotland in 2013 when she was employed as an Exercise Physiologist for the sportscotland institute of sport. It was during this employment that Murray had her first experience of rowing when she was appointed to be the lead physiology practitioner working with the Scottish Rowing Performance Programme, attending trials and camps as part of the performance team.

However, despite thriving in her physiology role the opportunity to pursue her dreams of becoming an elite athlete saw her attend a talent day run by UK Sport in 2014 where she was matched to skeleton, a winter sport that she had no previous experience of.

“I had a fantastic job,” said Murray. “But I wasn’t ready to let go of my childhood dream of becoming an Olympian. I knew that being part of the British Skeleton Talent Programme was a fantastic opportunity to make my dream a reality.

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“The sport looked crazy; it wasn’t a sport I thought I would ever do. Learning to slide was a wild ride and an absolute privilege. Not many people get to do skeleton, and whilst it took a little while to get used to, I absolutely loved flying headfirst, down an ice track at 120+ kph on a tiny sled.”

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Similar to progression often seen in rowing, Murray was able to transition quickly from complete beginner to selection into the national team and competing internationally, representing Great Britain on the world stage. Kim set career best performances of 7th and 8th at the Calgary 2019 and Igls 2020 World Cup races respectively. Career highlights include breaking the track record in Igls in 2020 and being selected for the World Championships in 2020.

She attributes this rapid progression to being willing to work hard and learn from mistakes along the way. Said Murray: “It was hard to be a beginner and I crashed a lot in the early days. But I was determined to keep trying and give this opportunity everything. I persevered and spent a lot of time working out what I needed to succeed in the sport. When you’re learning something new and out of your comfort zone, having good support around you is key.”

After retiring from British Skeleton in 2020, Murray spent some time considering her next move whilst setting up a new online business as an independent exercise and performance consultant to support herself. Although a return to high performance sport as a practitioner would have seemed to be the obvious route, Murray was keen to seek out a new challenge and felt that moving into a performance coaching role would allow her to apply the knowledge and experience that she has acquired over many years operating in performance sport.

Murray was the standout candidate following an open recruitment process for the Coaching Futures apprentice coach role and commenced employed with Scottish Rowing at the beginning of June. The sportscotland funded role provides Murray the opportunity to grow as a performance coach over a two-year period, going on a learning journey shaped by a bespoke personal development plan. She follows in the footsteps of John Higson and Iain Docwra and is the first female rowing coach appointed as a result of the sportscotland investment.

“This role is a fantastic fit for me, and I was thrilled to be appointed,” added Murray. “I hope to use my lived experience, alongside learning from some of the leading coaches in Scotland to support others to achieve their potential in rowing.”

Lee Boucher, Scottish Rowing’s Head of Performance Pathway said:

“Kim’s role will see her working closely with and learning from some of the leading performance programmes and coaches across Scotland and Great Britain whilst at the same time delivering coaching and adding value to our performance pathway activities.

“In a short space of time already we have been really impressed with her contribution to the team through her observation, questioning and feedback which highlights the depth and breadth of experiences that she has gained over many years operating in high performance sport.

“We believe that she will be a real asset to Scottish Rowing and I am excited for the impact that she will have when working directly with athletes and coaches over the coming period.”

Mike Whittingham, Director of High Performance at the sportscotland institute of sport said:

“We are absolutely delighted that an athlete the calibre of Kim has been successful in securing employment with Scottish Rowing through the Coaching Futures programme.

“At the sportscotland institute of sport our role is to work with the governing bodies of sport to nurture athletes as they progress in their careers and that doesn’t end when they stop competing. In her previous role with sportscotland, and as a full-time athlete, Kim has learned a great deal about coaching and performance environments so it is fantastic that this expertise will be retained in Scottish sport.  I wish her every success in her new career.”

Murray has been busy during her first few months in post, observing and helping to deliver coaching sessions at the Scottish Rowing Centre and supporting Scottish athletes and crews at BUCS Regatta and Henley Women’s Regatta. She will also be taking a lead role in an exciting new Scottish Rowing junior development initiative, details of which will be announced shortly.

“I’ve enjoyed a really warm welcome from the Scottish Rowing community and I look forward to meeting many more athletes, coaches and volunteers over the course of the new season,” said Murray.