PARALYMPIC COACH PROFILE; Paula Dunn (Track & Field – GB)
Paula Dunn is an English former sprinter who competed in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4 x 100 metres relay. She represented Great Britain in all three events at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. At 100 metres, she won a Commonwealth Games silver medal in 1986 and a bronze medal in 1994. Her personal bests of 11.15 secs in the 100 metres and 22.69 secs in the 200 metres, were the fastest times run by a British female sprinter during the 1990s.
Paula reached her peak in 1994, achieving her lifetime bests at that years Commonwealth Games in Victoria. In the 100 metres she won a bronze medal in 11.23 secs, having run her pb of 11.15 secs in the semi-finals. In the 200 metres, she narrowly missed a medal running another lifetime best of 22.69 secs. These times would remain the best sprint times of the decade by a British woman. She added another bronze in the sprint relay. In 1995, she competed at her fourth World Championshipsin Gothenburg, reaching the semi-finals in the 200 metres. She earned selection for the 1996 Olympic Games, but was forced to withdraw due to illness. As of 2016, Dunn ranks eighth on the UK all-time list at 100 metres and ninth at 200 metres.
Paula began working for UK Athletics in 2001 and was appointed Paralympic performance manager in 2009. After London 2012, she was promoted to the position of Paralympic head coach, replacing Peter Eriksson. She is the first female head coach appointed by UK Athletics.
Having set a target of 28-34 medals (a demand set before Russia’s ban was confirmed) – UK Sport are expecting the British athletics team to perform in the same ballpark as four years ago where they came away with 29.
Dunn sees the target as a challenging but fair expectation.
“If we can get within that target range I’ll be really, really pleased,” she said.
“It’s not going to be easy because medal targets are never easy. They always stretch you. We did well in Doha [39 medals] and we’ve got more athletes competing in more events so hopefully we’ll go and do ourselves proud. What you can guarantee is that everyone is going to try their best.”