‘No regrets’: Reggie Tucker reflects on 50 years as coach
Reggie Tucker has “no regrets” after calling time on his 50-year coaching career.
The 85-year-old has helped shape the careers of hundreds of cyclists, the most notable Anna Meares, who is considered the greatest female track cyclist of all time.
He also coached his son Kenrick to two Commonwealth Games, where he won consecutive gold medals in the men’s 1000m match sprint, as well as two Olympics.
Reggie said the time was right to retire but he planned to stay involved with the sport that has been such a big part of his life.
“I’ve had a career that’s lasted 50 years so I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve been able to do it for so long,” he said.
“There have been so many wonderful moments and so many incredible stories with so many people.
“I have no regrets – it’s time for me to step back.
“I’ve had a good innings, put it that way.”
Reggie was 14 when he first saddled up in cycling as a competitor. He did most of his racing locally, his highest achievement a silver medal at the Australian Masters.
It was through his three sons – Kenrick, Russell and Byron – that he was introduced to coaching.
“I was still racing and they used to go to the bike track with me and watch,” he said.
“I told them if they wanted to be bike riders that was okay but they had to be 12.
“It was mid-January 1972 when my oldest son Kenrick came to me and said ‘Dad, I’m 12. I can ride now’.
“That’s where it started.
“I had no official training (as a coach). What I did initially was I applied all the things I had learnt to improve myself to train Kenrick and a group of other boys training with him.
“The other thing was I always studied the opposition very, very closely. You’d learn a lot by doing that, most of all how to beat them, and then I’d impart that to my athletes.
“What I set out to do when I started coaching was to beat the Brisbane riders and win state titles. That was the goal, end of story, but it went way beyond that.”
Reggie’s three sons all went on to be Australian champions, as did Kenrick’s daughters Brooke and Lara.
He described Kenrick’s rise as incredible.
“He was racing B-grade at Christmas in 1976. In March 1977, he was Australian champion and in August 1978, he was Commonwealth Games champion,” Reggie said.
“Anna performed at a slightly higher level, but theirs were both wonderful journeys.”
Reggie played a significant role in guiding the early career of Meares, coaching her for more than five years.
Blackwater-born Meares was an 11-time world champion, and won six Olympic and eight Commonwealth Games medals.
Remembering the incredible athlete and that illustrious career, Reggie said: “There will only ever be one Anna Meares.
“She’s a great person and we’re still very, very good friends. She actually rang me over at the track and wished me well.”
Meares paid tribute to Reggie in a Facebook post, writing: “After 50 years as a coach, my first coach Reg is finally hanging up the boots. The amount of lives he impacted in his time in this regional community and the sporting community at large is profound. Thank you, Reggie, from the bottom of my heart for all you did for me and countless others.”
Reggie said he was thrilled to have been party to Meares’ phenomenal success.
Meares left Rockhampton in 2003 for the Australian Institute of Sport in Adelaide but Reggie continued to follow her ride to the top.
“You’ve got to have two things to be a good athlete – you’ve got to have the physical ability and you’ve got to train hard but you’ve also got to have the mental capacity and Anna had both,” he said.
“If I said that I knew she was going to be the most successful female cyclist of all time I’d be lying but I knew she would be good.
“I always had that feeling about her from when I started training her. She used to say to me: ‘Will I ever beat these people?’ and I always said yes, and I always believed it.
“In my heart I knew she would – and she did.”
Reggie has amassed so many memories and forged many enduring friendships during his time at the track.
“I’m not walking away from the sport, I just won’t be coaching anymore,” he said.
“I’m so happy and incredibly satisfied that I’ve been able to help so many people achieve their goals.”