Peter Eriksson (coach)

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Peter Eriksson
Born (1952-11-19) November 19, 1952 (age 62)

Peter Eriksson (born 19 November 1952) is an Athletics coach who is currently the Head Coach of Athletics Canada. Eriksson has over 30 years of coaching experience in speed skating and track and field; and has seen athletes in his programs win 122 medals at the Paralympic Games, in addition to medals in World Championships and other major international events. Eriksson is the most successful Paralympic Track and Field coach in Paralympic history.[clarification needed]

He has personally coached many athletes to international medals, including Jeff Adams, Kelly Smith, Rainer Kuschall, Heine Koboerle, Rick Reelie, Clayton Gerein (1964–2010), Christoph Etzlstorfer, Daniella Jutzeler (1967–1994), Håkan Eriksson, Bo Lindqvist, Jan-Owe Matsson, Tatyana McFadden, Chantal Petitclerc, Brent Lakatos, Hannah Cockroft, Shelly Woods. Eriksson is also a co-founder of the World Series for wheelchair racing, a series of international high caliber wheelchair racing events across the world 2003 to 2009.

He served as head coach of Britain's Paralympic team from 2009,[1] and then replaced Charles van Commenee as head coach of UK Athletics in 2012. He resigned from this position in 2013.

Career in Sweden[edit]

Peter Eriksson was born in Stockholm, Sweden, the only son of Eskil (a construction worker) and Ellen (a switchboard operator). He grew up in Bagarmossen, a suburb of the city of Stockholm, and from an early age he was instilled with a strong work ethic from his parents.

As a young man he was interested firstly in athletics, and competed in the sport of speed skating for 17 years (1963–1980). He participated in the Sprint World Championships in 1977 and 1979 with the best performance of 10th place in the 500 metre in 1977 World Championships. During his speed skating career he represented Södermals IK and Pollux speed skating clubs. From 1972 to 1983 he worked as a fireman on Östermalms Fire Station in Stockholm.

In 1980 Eriksson participated as an apprentice coach at the 1980 Olympic Games for the Swedish Track and Field Association. During these games Eriksson met Gusti Laurell, former Swedish National Coach, who became his mentor and has influenced him throughout his coaching career. In addition to Laurell, Herman Buuts, the former National Head Coach of Sweden and Holland, helped him with summer training during his last two active years as a speed skater. Buuts has also had a tremendous impact on Eriksson’s coaching philosophy and interest in track and field throughout his career.

Eriksson first became involved in coaching after the end of his speed skating career. He began his coaching career in Stockholm with a junior speed skating team and around 1982 moved over to coach Paralympic track and field athletes. The transition occurred while studying at Boson Sports School east of Stockholm where he met a wheelchair track athlete Ronnie Schuttman, who asked Eriksson to coach him. Eriksson completed his master degree in physical education at GIH (University of Stockholm). He taught in schools around Stockholm for a couple of years before starting research in the physiology on spinal cord injuries at the University of Stockholm for Professors Per-Olof Åstrand and Bjorn Ekblom until 1986. During this period Eriksson acted as the head coach for the Swedish Paralympic Team and coached several international wheelchair athletes such as Jan-Owe Matsson, Bo Lindqvist and Hakan Eriksson.

Career in North America[edit]

Eriksson moved to Edmonton, Canada in September 1987 after spending a year in New York City. He continued his research at the Steadward Centre (formerly known as the Rick Hansen Centre) at the University of Alberta under professors Robert Steadward and Yagesh Bhambhani until 1992, when he moved to Ottawa, Ontario. During his research period Eriksson published more than 18 scientific research articles on his work.

Between 1988 to 1996 Eriksson acted as a Head Coach for the wheelchair racing athletes in track and field with CWSA (Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association), from 1996 onwards he coached primarily as a personal coach for several top Canadian and USA wheelchair racing athletes such as Jamie Bone, Clayton Gerein, Rick Reelie, Jeff Adams, Kelly Smith, Brent Lakatos, Scot Hollonbeck, Tatyana McFadden, Colette Bourgonje and Chantal Petitclerc.

Since arriving in North America Eriksson has coached athletes from 10 different countries; namely Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Great Britain, Sweden, Canada and United States. Eriksson was the first Paralympic track and field coach in Canada certified at Level 5 (NCCP) for track and field. Eriksson acted as the High Performance Director for Speed Skating Canada between 1992 to 1995, which led to four medals during the 1994 Olympic Games. In 1995 Eriksson moved into working in the high technology field until 2005.

In 2005 he became the first Paralympic coach to be awarded Canadian Coach of the Year and was also inducted in the Terry Fox Hall of Fame. The same year he accepted the position of head coach for track and field for US Paralympic Committee where he worked for a year. After this period Eriksson worked as High Performance Advisor for Own the Podium (funding agency for elite sport in Canada) until January 2008 when he began work as head coach for track and field for the Paralympic programme at UK Athletics.[contradiction]

Career in UK[edit]

Eriksson was appointed the new Head Coach for the Olympic program in October 2012; he resigned the position in July 2013 due to family reasons.

Coach Eriksson was hired by UK Athletics as the Head Coach/Performance Director for the Paralympic program from March 2009 to October 2012. The mission was to change the international medal standing for the GB & NI team. At the 2008 Paralympic Games the GB & NI team finished 18th in the Nations standing with 2 Gold medals (David Weir). The goals was set to improve the performance of the GB & NI team to be the top 10 nation at the 2011 IPC World Championships and to be top 8 nation at the 2012 Paralympic Games leading up to finish in top 3 in 2016.

Under the leadership of Eriksson the 2011 IPC World Championships results was better than expected where the GB & NI team finished 3rd in the overall medal standing with 12 Gold medals and with 38 medals in total. 2012 Paralympic Games in London continued to be a success where the GB & NI team once again finished 3rd with 11 Gold medals and with 29 medals in total.

Part of this success for the GB & NI team under Eriksson’s leadership has been complete integration with the Olympic program, the slogan for achieving this has been the same, the same, the same. Ensuring that all funded athletes on the Paralympic program has the same opportunity, facilities, support services, training/coaching environment and expectations as the Olympic contra parts.

In October 2012, Eriksson was appointed to replace Charles van Commenee as UK Athletics head coach.[2] It was intended that he would lead the programme until the World Championships in London 2017, but he quit in June 2013, citing personal reasons.[3]

Back to North America 2013[edit]

Coach Eriksson accepted the Head Coach position at Athletics Canada in August 2013 located in his hometown of Ottawa, Ontario. This Head Coach position is inclusive of both the Paralympic and Olympic programs.

Personal life[edit]

Eriksson married Rhonda Nishio (1955) in 1992 in Ottawa. He is the father of four daughters, Jaclyn (1994), Jennifer (1995), Jasmine (1999), Julia (2002).

Coaching – Awards[edit]

2012 – High Performance Coach of the Year – UK Coaching Awards – UK Coach

2012 – Hall of Fame – UK Coaching Awards – UK Coach

2008 – Coach of the Year – CWSA, Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association

2008 – Coach of the Year – Athletics Canada

2008 – The Order of Ikkos, United States Olympic Committee

2008 – Coaching Association of Canada, Petro-Canada Coaching Excellence Award

2006 – Coaching Association of Canada, Petro-Canada Coaching Excellence Award

2005 – Coach of the Year – 32nd Annual Canadian Sport Awards; First Paralympic Coach to ever receive this honor, this award is for all sports in Canada

2005 - Introduced to the Terry Fox Hall of Fame

2005 – Coach of the Year – Ontario Sport Awards

2004 – Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association (CWSA) – Coach of the Year

2004 – Coaching Association of Canada, Petro-Canada Coaching Excellence Award

2000 - Coaching Association of Canada, Wittenauer Coaching Excellence Award

1998 - Coaching Association of Canada, Wittenauer Coaching Excellence Award

1997 - Dr. Robert Jackson, Outstanding Volunteer Award Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association

1996 - Nominated for the 3M Coaching Award. Coach of the Year

1996 - Coaching Association of Canada, Wittenauer Coaching Excellence Award

1995 - Coaching Association of Canada, Wittenauer Coaching Excellence Award

1993 - Coaching Association of Canada, Wittenauer Coaching Excellence Award

1991 - Nominated for the 3M Coaching Award. Coach of the Year

1990 - Nominated for the 25th Annual Air Canada Amateur Sport Awards. Coach of the Year.

1989 - Coach of the Year, Manitoba Wheelchair Sports Association, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

1986 - Wheelrose Person of the year, Rehabilitation Group, Sweden.

1980 - First Olympic Reserve, Winter Olympics, Lake Placid, New York.

1977 - Number 10 in the world (500m), World Speed Skating Championships, Holland.


Year Gold Silver Bronze Total
1984 12 1 2 15
1988 9 8 9 26
1992 5 13 11 29
1996 6 7 4 17
2000 5 7 4 16
2004 5 1 2 8
2008 5 3 0 8
2012 2 1 0 3
Total 49 41 32 122


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