Former Team Solent athletics coach dies aged 88

Anja Fairbairn. Picture: Paul Smith

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The coach who trained Olympic athletes, including Roger Black and Kriss Akabusi, has died.

Former Team Solent coach Mike Smith died earlier this week after a short illness, aged 88.

Southampton-based Smith coached Black – who grew up in Alverstoke, Gosport and was part of Team Solent – and was renowned for his work training up-and-coming athletics stars in a career spanning five decades.

Smith also coached Locks Heath-based Akabusi as well as Iwan Thomas, Donna Hartley and Todd Bennett.

Paying tribute on Twitter, Akabusi posted: ‘Mike you made it, say hi to Todd & Donna for us, cya when I get there, won’t be long & we’ll have one big tear up.’