Llyod (Bud) Winter, Bob Kersee and Stephen Francis
Llyod (Bud) Winter, Bob Kersee and Stephen Francis

I believe the phrase, greatest of all time, is a big part of the American sports lexicon. How do we define great coaching, much less greatest coach? I think we first have to put the emphasis on professional coaching.

The coach that consistently produces champion professional athletes over a long period would be the criteria. Many coaches have stellar achievements over the years, but I won’t go into the special mentions; I will go straight to the crème de la crème. I have found three coaches over the years whom I believe is above the rest. They trained and produced multiple champions from several events.

My top three are Llyod (Bud) Winter, Bob Kersee, and Stephen Francis.

The first two are Americans, and the other is Jamaican. These three coaches have produced many Olympic champions and world record setters. They would take up too much space to list them. If I do not list, all the athletes bear with me because I do not want to write something with names listing like it’s a memorial.

I will start with Bud Winter. This man is a pioneer. His body of work extends to more than athletes. He has some input in Jamaica coaching development. Dennis Johnson, who brought sprint technique coaching to Jamaica and the philosophy that athletic development can be done in Jamaica, was one of his former athletes. He invited Bud Winter down for a coaching seminar with a young Glen Mills, one of the attendees.

The idea attributed to bud that relaxation was important for speed seemed counterintuitive at the time. The notion that relaxation helps with the maintaining of top speed for a sprinter was groundbreaking at the time it was introduced. Bud winter was also the coach of John Carlos, Tommy Smith, Lee Evans, Ronnie Ray Smith, Willie Steele, to name a few. His success ranges the 100m, 200m, 400m, long jump and even pole vault at the Olympic level. Tommy Smith and John Carlos careers were cut short because of their stance against injustice. We may never know how far they could have gone in track and field. It is not easy to put anyone above a pioneer like Bud Winter.

The next great coach is Bob Kersee. His accomplishment is numerous, and it is not easy to know where to begin and end when brevity is intended. His lists of athletes that are Olympic champions are multiple. The lists of athletes are numerous. A few of the names are Jackie Joyner, Dawn Harper, Gail Devers. Valrie Brisco-Hooks, Greg Foster, Allyson Felix, Flo Jo, Joanna Hayes, Kerron Clement, Sydney McLaughlin and many more. Bob Kersee accomplishments in track and field range from the 100m, 200m, 400m, 100mh, 110mh, long jump to heptathlon. He produced many worlds and Olympic champions with quite a few world records along the way.

The next coach is Stephen Francis (Franno). Franno is reputed to read every book on track and field and watch countless videos. I have no idea if this is true, but within the circle of Jamaica track and field, he is seen as a man with a brilliant mind and a genius in the field of coaching.

Franno has a much younger track life than the other two, but the accomplishment to match. His athletes are numerous, from Bridget Foster, Asafa Powell, Shelly-Ann Fraser price, Ellaine Thompson Herah, Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Shericka Williams, Melaine Walker, Kalese Spence, Ronald Levy, Sherone Simpson, Tajay Gayle and many more. Franno coached the last four Olympic female Olympic 100m champion (from 2008 to 2020) and eight of twelve possible medals.

Franno pride himself on developing latent talent to a standard world level. He has coached athletes that win multiple world and Olympic events. His coaching ranges from 100m, 200m, 400m, 100mh, 110mh, high jump and long jump. Franno is not only a great coach but also a student of coaching to improve results. His sprinters tend to have excellent mechanics and are generally excellent starters. When you look at his athletes, you can see they are well-coached and always seem to be at their best for championships.

Who is the best of the three is anyone’s guess and highly subjective. Bud Winter is a pioneer who has a long list of accomplishments. I heard some say his production would be a lot more challenging to accomplish in the current climate where the numbers of knowledgeable coaches are numerous. That thought is all speculation. Bob Kersee, with his plethora of champions and world record holders, has been a coach of champions for over four decades. His longevity of producing champions is second to none. It would be difficult to name a coach as accomplished much less better.

Franno is fairly recent relative to the other two and may not have the longevity of a Bob Kersee or a pioneer like a Bud Winter but his accomplishment as a coach could stand up to anyone. His range as a professional coach is second to none. He is the only coach I know who had a hand in all three Olympic medalists in the same event for two Olympics (2008 and 2020 Olympics women 100m).

Choosing who the best of the three is would be highly subjective. What weight would you apply to each to come up with the reason for the best? I will leave it at all three are the top three best of all time. Athletics are result-oriented, yet in this case, I find it very difficult to select one. I have high respect for their accomplishments and will leave it to readers to decide who they believe is the best.

For all the names I leave out, forgive me. You have all contributed to the accomplishment of your coach.

*** The views expressed in this article are those of the author (Robert Taylor) and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, trackalerts.com.



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