SPORTS professional Duncan Truswell has been reconnected with his Rotherham roots — thanks to an Advertiser story spotted by the town's former running hero, Peter Elliott.
Duncan, who now lives on the south coast, featured in a piece in our Looking Back section a few weeks ago highlighting his exploits as a young sailor at Ulley Sailing Club 25 years ago.
Olympic 1500m silver medallist Peter knows Duncan because their paths cross in their current-day jobs so he dropped him a note about it.
“He said he didn't know I was a Rotherham lad and that I was famous again, or words to that effect,” smiled Duncan.
“Funnily enough, at the time he got in touch I was in America at a regatta with a guy who was in the British sailing team in the 1990s. I'd not yet read the article and I was wondering what it could be about.
“He told me straight away it would be the British sailing team trials and, sure enough, he was right. As luck would have it this guy could tell me what the Advertiser story was about before I'd even seen it.”
Duncan's parents live in Listerdale and are regular readers of the Advertiser.
“My dad got me into sailing,” said Duncan. “We sailed at Ulley and I was a training partner with Paul Goodison in our youth.
“Of course, Paul went on to win a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in China in the laser and competed at the Athens and London Games and has sailed in the Americas Cup.
“I'm still good mates with Paul, in touch with him all the time.
“I've been sailing 35 years and still do some pro sailing with a reasonably wealthy guy who has a yacht over here and one in America and I fit that around my day job.”
Duncan Truswell and Paul Goodison in early days.
The day job Duncan refers to is one which carries much responsibility.
He is the strategic lead for talent and performance with Sport England in London.
“I managed the British sailing team for 12 years, doing junior youth and Paralympic programmes, and then moved across to Sport England,” he explained.
“We disperse about £105 million — a combination of Lottery and exchequer money — to develop Olympians, Paralympians and the stars of tomorrow.
“That's across about 50 sports.
“I guess my biggest responsibility at the minute is overseeing our investment into Team England and obviously Team England is hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
“We are aiming to top the medal table there.”
Duncan (43) grew up in Herringthorpe and went to Wickersley School. He left Rotherham in the early 2000s and took up the British sailing job in Southampton, where he still lives.
Connection ... Peter Elliott
He still gets up to Rotherham to see his mum and dad.
“I was up for Christmas, which was great,” he said.
“With a lot of the sports I look after, I am up and around the area a fair bit as well because GB and England boxing is based in Sheffield, taekwondo and cycling in Manchester and there are sports based at Loughborough as well.”
Duncan's history with Peter dates back to his training days in Rotherham when he'd see him on training runs at Herringthorpe Stadium, albeit running much more quickly!
Peter is now operations director at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
“It's amazing when you have people with Peter's experience and pedigree in leadership positions in sport,” says Duncan.
Returning to the subject of the Advertiser, Duncan remembers doing work experience at the paper in his younger years with the then sports editor, Paul Rickett.
“I remember we went to Brendan Ingle's boxing gym at Wincobank and we spent time chatting about sailing and Amir Khan was in there training that day,” added Duncan.
“The experience was great, I am still grateful for that.”