Diana Norman: coach for a local athletics club, multiple World and British Record holder and an overall inspiration. 


Diana Norman is a coach at Epsom & Ewell Athletics club but whilst guiding the young athletes of today to success, she holds numerous impressive titles and stories of her own. I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the most inspirational sports women in London.


So where did it all begin? Di’s impressive athletic journey began when her sister, Julia, was training with Epsom & Ewell Harriers and Di, “wanted to go along and see why it was so enjoyable.” At 8 years old she joined the middle distance group and started taking part in cross country events, moving on to concentrate on the 800m and high jump by 11 years old. Di explains that as an U13 she gave multi-events a try, admitting that due to not starting hurdle training until she was an U17, her “U13 and U15 hurdle times were pretty awful!”


Di shared some of her favourite experiences and noteworthy milestones including lining up against Sally Gunnell in a televised 100m hurdles race and winning the English Schools Combined Events in 1992. Furthermore, competing in the heptathlon at the European Master Championships in Denmark not only brought Di the glory of gold but additionally a W40 British Record. “I stood on the podium and the National Anthem was played which is always a heart-wrencher,” she remarked.


One of her more recent successes, Di gained a second World Record on 12th September of this year, beating the World Masters W45 Pentathlon record. This was a well-earned achievement as she shares, “I had actually broken the record in a competition in June but the organisers hadn’t supplied electronic timing or a wind gauge so the record didn’t count.”


As can be imagined, the path to 3 British Records and 2 World Records was not without its challenges. These have included various frustrating injuries that have unfortunately led to withdrawals from competitions. She shared further insight into a less discussed side of the sport: the mental struggles. She added, “as the body ages it can’t continue the same regimes as it has previously say in your 20’s” and has had to adapt her training accordingly.


After entering the coaching world during a time that Epsom & Ewell were struggling to supply enough coaches for the volume of athletes, Di has gone on to spread her positivity and encouragement to many. Di now coaches at the track each Monday, Tuesday and Thursday alongside coaching privately, in local schools and hosting athletic holiday camps.


Di expresses a love for “passing on [her] athletic knowledge” and “seeing progression however small or large” which manifests in her brilliant coaching ability. She believes, “the greatest joy is to see an athlete achieve one of their goals on the knowledge that you helped them achieve it.”


Sophie Lomas, an U20 athlete with Epsom & Ewell says: “Di is an incredibly motivational athlete and coach who not only trains her athletes physically, but mentally too.” She went on to say, “Her resilience in the face of injury and genuine love for the sport is so inspiring and I am extremely grateful to have been coached by her.” Evidently, Di’s attempts to spread her passion for athletics have been successful.


In a perfect cycle of giving back to her community, the woman who once trained at Epsom’s track as a child herself, now inspires and touches the lives of the young athletes of today.


For me athletics will be with me all my life, as a competitor, a coach, an official, an organiser, a supporting parent/grandparent, an advisor and hopefully always a record breaker/holder!