Richard Fidler talks sport with Russ Barber

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RUSS Barber is the head coach of the City of Sheffield Swimming Club. Two of his squad, Ellie Faulkner and Becky Turner, will represent Team GB at the Olympic Games in London later this summer and a host of others are in action at the ASA National Championships at Ponds Forge this week.

What have you been doing today?

This morning I was coaching from 5.15-7.15am then sped to Goole to watch Ellie Faulkner run in the Torch Relay then sped back to have a sponsorship meeting. Then training session ahead of the ASA Championships.

Who is your inspiration and why?

My family inspire me and my swimmers.

Which sports star did you admire when you were growing up?

Seb Coe and Nigel Mansell. Seb Coe because of his talent and self confidence and no one has ever looked so good kicking down the home straight of a 1500m.

Mansell because he had a lion’s heart and fought to the end of every race he competed in. He had no respect for reputations.

What’s your favourite other sport?

Athletics. I love watching all the events

Who is the most famous person in your phone?

I don’t know anyone famous so I guess Ellie and Rebecca.

When was the last time you cried?

Today, I was really proud to watch Ellie with the Olympic torch. It brought a tear to my eye. It was a man cry, not full sobbing.

Who or what are you most proud of?

I am most proud of all my swimmers over the years who have made massive sacrifices for their sport.

What’s the best piece of advice you have received?

Never follow the crowd, find your own path and never respect anyone who doesn’t respect you.

When did you know you were good at what you do?

When I was teaching swimming lessons in the early 1990s and got an outstanding achievement award which surprised me but I was really appreciative.

What one item do you take with you wherever you go?

The latest edition of Classic Rock Magazine.

What is the most nervous you’ve ever been?

Before James Kirton’s 200m Breaststroke finals in the Olympic Trials in 2008 because he had already made the time but needed a top two finish to make the Games. He went on the team, despite an injury.

Do you ever doubt yourself?

No I don’t. I can’t really because we have to instill belief in the swimmers so we can’t afford to doubt our decisions.

What is your view on social networks like Twitter and Facebook?

They’re 90 per cent meaningless rubbish and 10 per cent fantastic.

How do you relax away from sport?

Music. I play in a band called Fire in the Belly. I play lead guitar.

Where was your last holiday - and would you go again?

Last holiday was a surfing holiday in Portugal. A big gang of us go twice a year and intend to go this winter again.

Do you cook? If so what’s your favourite - if not who provides that favourite meal?

I am officially the worst cook in the northern hemisphere. I still have to ask my mother how to cook scrambled eggs. I’m a typical Yorkshireman so my favourite meal is steak and chips.

What was the last book you read?

It was the Steve Peters (Sports Psychologist) “The Chimp Paradox”.

If you weren’t doing what you do, what would you do?

A full time musician, but I’m not good enough at that to pay my mortgage.

Tell our readers in your own words why you think we’re interested enough to interview you?

Because I believe that if you work hard enough and smart enough you can achieve great things. I am just a kid from Hull with no academic qualifications that has been able to coach some of the best swimmers in the world and I’m very proud of that.

Favourite TV programme?

Top Gear.