Naomi Johnston says being front and centre of a ground-breaking new UK Sport programme can help her fulfil her lofty Olympic dream.

Johnston, British Cycling’s Junior Academy Sprint Coach, was one of 28 coaches from 16 sports involved in UK Sport’s Female Coaching Leadership Programme.

The initiative aims to more than double female representation in the Olympic and Paralympic community by Paris 2024 and Johnston, a keen cyclist herself as a teenager growing up in York, thinks the support on offer can help her scale the Games heights.

The 25-year-old, who is also involved in the UK Sport High-Performance Coach Apprenticeship launched in April, said: “I really liked the idea of the programme because it was female only and wants to progress females into podium coach roles, which is something that I want to do. 

“Being a female coach in an organisation that doesn’t have many of us, I was really keen to be around other female coaches and learn from them and share experiences, especially the mentor coaches.”

Johnston was mentored by Bex Milnes, the Lead Paratriathlon Coach at British Triathlon's Loughborough Triathlon Performance Centre, who offered key support and development opportunities that were fundamental to Johnston’s coaching journey. 

Ealing Times: Johnston believes the UK Sport campaign can aid her lofty ambitionsJohnston believes the UK Sport campaign can aid her lofty ambitions

She added: “Bex was really interesting, and she was open to sharing a lot of her experiences. There were challenges she spoke about as a female coach that I could definitely identify with. 

“It was a unique opportunity and there aren’t many chances to do something like this or be around other female coaches, so I jumped at the chance to do it!

“I grew up around cycling and I’ve always had a passion for it. I love helping other people, particularly working with younger people and inspiring them.

“I think there probably still is this idea that there’s not space for women in coaching roles. People are generally quite surprised when I tell them what my job is. I do think it’s improving, but it’s not quite there yet and that’s why we need programmes like this one.

“I feel inspired from the programme. I feel that there’s going to be a change and more females progressing into podium coach roles. 

“Meeting other female coaches from other sports and making contacts, bouncing ideas off each other and sharing experiences, have really helped me develop as a coach.”

Ealing Times: Having diversity in the coaching team is very important to Johnston.Having diversity in the coaching team is very important to Johnston.

Johnston has already experienced success in hehit r coaching, attending both the Junior European and Junior World Track Championships in 2019 and scooping six medals from her ten athletes.

And the decorated Yorkshire coach added: “I had never been to an international competition before, as a coach or a rider.

“One of the girls, Emma Finucane, got European champion, and then the boys were third at the Worlds in the team sprint, so that was a huge thing for me. 

“When I was younger, I was never coached by a female. I think that was a big part of what made me want to get into a role like this. I think you bring something different to the role than a male coach and I think it’s really important to have that diversity. 

“Coaching at an Olympics one day would be my dream. But also, I’d really like to see more female coaches, particularly in track sprinting because that is such a male dominated area of cycling. 

“I was the first female sprint coach that’s ever been so I think for more females to be involved would be as rewarding as getting to an Olympic Games. It would mean a lot.”

UK Sport’s female coaches leadership programme is positioning 28 coaches as role models for the next generation of female coaches. It marks a turning point of truly making the coaching workforce in the Olympic and Paralympic community far more diverse and gender equal. For more information visit