A FORMER Widnes Tigers rugby league player has been named the region's top coach - in triathlon.
Brian New, 43, is himself a seasoned endurance athlete having done triathlons, events such as the Lanzarote Ironman and ultra running.
In last year's 145-mile Grand Union Canal Race from Birmingham to London, he was one of only 20 finishers.
But it is for his work mentoring elite competitors of EnduranceUK.com that he has been honoured.
A level-three triathlon coach, he also runs classes at the David Lloyd Centre in Warrington.
The Penketh man, whose father hails from West Bank, was named the British Triathlon Association's North West coach of the year.
The accolade followed a poll of BTA members and particularly acknowledges New's work with Wigan athletes Caroline Slaughter, 43, and 16-year-old Daniel Atherton.
Both have achieved high levels of success with ex-GB modern pent-athlete Slaughter rising in 12 months from novice to World Triathlon Championship status.
New admits no coach can be successful without his charges putting in the work and says he has taken great delight in their progress.
'As a coach you can only work with what you are given and if people aren't prepared to get up and go out when it's raining you aren't going to have success with them,' he said.
'I see myself as the motivator and facilitator. It's probably 70% down to the athlete's talent but you have to fine tune them.
'Three or four athletes could finish within a second or two of each other but it is about giving them that extra belief to say 'I can do this'.'
New is also a BTA coach educator who lectures at Loughborough University.
He intends to run the Birmingham to London race again next year and is looking to beat last year's time of 41 hours.
He added: 'I played rugby league until I was 20 or 21 and then I basically turned to running and triathlon.
'I lived in London for 10 years and that is where I got into it.
'As an athlete, I see myself as a middle-packer but that's like most coaches - you don't have to be a world-class athlete to do it or succeed.'