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Page last updated at 13:00 GMT, Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Pye pips Gatland to coaching gong

Pye helped David Roberts to his Paralympic record
David Roberts celebrates his fourth Beijing gold - and eleventh in total

Swimming guru Billy Pye has been named as coach of the year at the annual Sports Council for Wales awards.

The 50-year-old Neath man saw his team of eight swimmers scoop 13 medals at the Paralympics, nine of them gold.

Swansea-based Pye beat rugby Grand Slam coach Warren Gatland and rowing coach Ian Shore to the prestigious prize.

"If Billy was a country, he would have been placed 14th on the [Beijing Paralympics] medal table," said Gerwyn Owen of Disability Sport Wales.

Billy has made a massive contribution to Welsh sport

Philip Carling, chair of the Sports Council for Wales
Former miner Pye was brought up in Blaengwynfi and learnt to swim in the local river.

He took up coaching when the mines began to close and he left St John's Pit at Maesteg.

He rose from coach of the local swim club at Cynffig to head coach at the British Disability High Performance Centre based at the Wales National Pool in Swansea.

In Beijing, 13-year-old Eleanor Simmonds entered the history books as the youngest Paralympic or Olympic medallist ever when she won golds over the 100m and 400m freestyle.

David Roberts won four golds to equal Tanni Grey Thompson's career total of 11 Paralympic gold medals, while Liz Johnson stormed to glory in the 100m breaststroke.

"Billy has made a massive contribution to Welsh sport and we have certainly enjoyed the fruits of his labour this year," said Philip Carling, chair of the Sports Council for Wales.

"Good coaches inspire, motivate and encourage and it's vital that we recognise their work.

"The awards also demonstrate that coaches at local level are just as vital as those who work with elite athletes.

"It is their industrious contribution that encourages youngsters into sport, keeps them motivated and active at a young age and instils the core values of hard work, accountability, belief and - above all - enjoyment."

see also
Golden swimmer with a will to win
14 Sep 08 |  South east
Roberts & Simmonds shine in pool
14 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Paralympic gold 'for dead mother'
12 Sep 08 |  South east
Ruddock claims coaching accolade
17 Nov 05 |  Internationals
BBC Sport Wales coverage
28 Oct 08 |  Wales

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