Sunderland Harrier and esteemed middle distance coach, Ken Jefferson, has died at the age of 71.
He was the central figure in Sunderland Harriers successes on the national and North East young athletics scene during the 1990s and up to a few years ago before illness forced him to stand down.
He joined Sunderland Harriers during the early 1960s and competed as a youngster before leaving the club to play local football for some of the leading teams.
The shipyard draughtsman returned to the Harriers in 1981 when he brought his son Lee to join the club. With coaching staff thin on the ground he started coaching schoolboy middle distance runners. He took his coaching badges and sat down to plan his long term strategy which led to his first national team honours during the 1990s.
He found that coaching was his niche as success continued at an astonishing rate, no doubt fired by his enthusiasm and the well thought out training sessions at the Silksworth track. His no-nonsense approach to training gained the respect of his charges and this led to great camaraderie among the boys.
Jefferson’s first national team achievement came in 1993 when Sunderland Under-15 Boys won the National Road Relay title. They followed this by winning the title a further four times including the Over-17 title in 2000...