Julie Sullivan, previously the head athletics coach at an American University, has joined the Sunderland Harriers coaching staff after arriving back to the UK in November, 2015.
She has a depth of experience as a coach and as international athlete and has settled into her new role with the club’s middle distance and long distance female athletes.
The Wingate athlete and coach said: “I moved to the States in November, 1997, on a track and field scholarship to Seattle Pacific University.
My coach was Doris Brown Heritage, the first women’s World Cross Country winner and former world record holder.
But a back injury and surgery put an end to my scholarship. Although I still graduated in June 2001 and managed to get a coaching appointment to coach at St Martin’s University as an assistant and eventually I became Head Coach.”
At St Martin’s University she coached cross country and middle distance as well as endurance events including the steeplechase.
She added: “I came back to the UK in November, 2015, when my dad had been suffering from prostate cancer, which he recovered from and it made me realise I was too far from home.
“I met Simon Taylor (Harriers coach) when he was living and working in the USA. When I moved to the North East, a mutual friend reminded me that this is where Simon had moved back to on his return. I got in touch and Simon invited me down to Silksworth to help him coach his athletes and subsequently I decided to try and get fit again to compete myself and help on the coaching front.
“I would like to thank everyone at Sunderland Harriers for being so friendly and welcoming. I really enjoy being a member of this club.’’
As well as coaching middle distance runners at the Harriers base on the Silksworth track, she has also got back involved again in athletics competition as an Over-55 veteran.
Competing in the North East Masters Championships at Monkton in June, she won the 200m (32.2) and 400m (74.1) to place12th and ninth respectively on the UK charts. And on Monday night in the North East Masters League at Monkton, she won her 200m in a personal best of 31.8 to move into ninth in the UK rankings.
But the Birmingham born athlete made her mark as a middle distance runner in the UK after joining Warley AC at the age of 12, before moving to Wolverhampton and Bilston in 1988.
Her first success came in winning the West Midlands Schools 1500m title in 1977. Other noteworthy performances followed and included Olympic 1500m trials finalist in 1996, silver medallist in the England Indoor 1500m and she represented Great Britain’s track team twice in European meetings.
Sullivan’s versatility as an athlete was shown in achieving rankings in the 400m, 800m, 1500m, and 3000m on the UK track and field lists and the 5-mile and 10-mile on UK road charts.
Her impressive list of personal best times are: 100m 12.5, 200m 25.4, 400m 56.06, 800m 2.07.59, 1500m 4.20.26, 3000m 9.46.1, Road: 5k 17.49, 10k 35.59, 10m 59.44.
She was also ranked number one in the UK in 1997 for the Over-35 800m 2.11.1, and 1500m: 4.30.55.
Ironically, Simon Taylor, a former middle distance runner, has also just returned to competing and at Monkton, as an Over-55 veteran, he won his 200m in 33.5.