About Sonya Ellis

Sonya is the Director of Coaching and Founder of South West Athletics Academy. Athletics is her passion and she has a core fundamental belief in inclusiveness as a core value of the academy.

Sonya has been involved in athletics for over 30 years first as a junior athlete and then reaching regional level. When competing she also became an assistant coach and team manager. Since then she has thrown herself into coaching, team managing and becoming a mentor for many developing athletes and coaches. She is also a qualified athletics official as a starter and marksman.

Sonya is a very highly qualified coach and regularly attends sessions as part of England Athletics National Coach Mentor Programme. She is qualified to level 4 in combined events (sprints, hurdles, high jump, long jump, middle distance, shot, discus, javelin and pole vault) plus is Level 3 in middle distance and level 2 for all events (sprints and hurdles,  jumps, throws, middle distance and working with children). She also has an NVQ 3 in Caring for Children and Young People.

Sonya also takes great satisfaction in mentoring coaches working with South West Athletics Academy and really encourages them to develop their skills and provides lots of opportunities to learn new skills by working with many different groups and age ranges.

She takes huge personal satisfaction from seeing athletes develop and grow in confidence and this has led to her developing the pathway core values of the academy which are Participation, Potential and Performance.


Sonya was proud to be a volunteer Gamesmaker for both the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and has had an amazing time at the Games. Her role was to bring athletes from the first call area at the warm up track to final call and then onto the track or field event in the Olympic stadium.

She was also at the test event at the Olympic Stadium as the head coach for the University of Exeter Athletics Club and then the Team Manager for Team South West in the UK School Games. A number of the athletes she has coached have reached national and international levels in events including sprints, hurdles and long jump and two athletes recently getting GB vests for disability sprints events one for visual impairment and one with learning dificulties.


Sonya has gained local, regional and national recognition for her coaching skills by receiving a number of awards including:

  • Venus Awards 2015 – Semi Finalist
  • Sports Coach UK – Performance Development Coach of the Year 2013 – Runner Up
  • Sports Coach UK – Community Coach of the Year 2012 – Runner Up
  • Express & Echo – Contribution to the Olympics – Runner Up
  • Active Devon Senior Coach of the Year 2012 – Winner
  • Active Devon Sportivate Project of Year 2012 (with University of Exeter Athletics Club) – Winner
  • Express and Echo Coach of the Year 2012 – Winner
  • Express and Echo – Contribution to Disability Sport 2012 – Runner Up


Sonya is proud to support athletes from a wide range of backgrounds and at all levels and ensures that she provides quality coaching provision through the academy and her links with other groups and clubs.