A stellar career in Welsh gymnastics led to Jo Coombs being named Coach of the Year at the Welsh Sports Personality of the Year 2014, after she guided the Welsh rhythmic gymnastics team to bring home an unprecedented eight medals from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Alongside her sporting success Jo has also had a successful management career, switching from teaching to a role as a local authority sport coordinator in 2000.
Jo, who specialises in rhythmic gymnastics, then went on to become National Development Manager with Welsh Gymnastics in 2004 and then Head of Performance in 2010. It was during this stage in her career that she was encouraged to look at the MA in Sport Management and Leadership at Cardiff Met, as part of her continued professional development.
Speaking about enrolling on the MA, Jo said: “I was already working in a sports management role, but I wanted to back that experience up with a professional qualification and learn more about the field as a whole. It was during the run-up to London 2012 so it was a great time to be working and collaborating with others in similar roles. There were lots of opportunities to speak with other professionals and discuss best practice in that way."
“The course was part-time so I was able to implement and utilise what I was learning in lecturers into a practical setting straight away. Although I was initially a bit nervous about going back into academia after such a long break, I soon gained confidence and the course was a great mix of assignments and practical work-based learning and study.
“I think the MA would be an asset both to those aspiring to a career in sport management just as much as for professionals already working in that type of role. From my perspective, it was often great just to be reassured that I was doing the ‘right’ things already!”
Speaking about her current role in Welsh Gymnastics, Jo said: “I’m responsible for providing the performance coaches and discipline committees with the tools and support they need to enhance the disciplines potential and talent of gymnasts, both within the national programme and on the Commonwealth and World stage."
"The role maintains eight disciplines and covers everything performance related including coaching, judging, competitions and squads. The short term focus is preparation for 2018 Commonwealth Games and improving our places on to the GB pathway for representation at European and World level. Long term, we are continuing to improve on our performance structures and development of talent to make the performance team world class.”
Under the Spotlight:
1992 - 2000: Secondary school PE teacher
2000 - 2004: Sport coordinator with Newport local authority
2004: National Development Manager at Welsh Gymnastics
2010: Head of Performance and Excellence at Welsh Gymnastics
2013: MA in Sport Management and Leadership, Cardiff Met
2014: Welsh Sports Personality of the Year - Coach of the Year award.